Building Customer Awareness
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One important goal of our marketing and communications activities is to increase consumers’ knowledge of our products and our corporate performance. We are particularly focused on improving consumers’ awareness of the Company’s excellent quality, safety, environmental and social performance. We use a wide range of communication methods to share information about Ford with potential customers and to get feedback from drivers. This sustainability report is one key element of our strategy. We also engage in two-way communications with consumers and other stakeholders through a variety of stakeholder engagement forums.
These communication efforts – coupled with delivering products with world-class quality, fuel economy, technology and other features – are paying off. We saw increases in favorable opinion and purchase consideration for our products across the U.S., Brazil, the UK and China.
We track consumers’ familiarity with, opinion and consideration of, and shopping and purchase intentions for our vehicles as part of our brand value and awareness tracking. Tracking these elements helps us to understand how consumers view our vehicles and where we need to focus our product development and communications efforts to improve consumers’ perceptions of and interest in our vehicles.
In 2010 and 2011, we are continuing our innovative use of social media to connect with customers and get the word out earlier than ever about our new products. Social media channels, such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and blogs, are increasing in importance and influence, especially with the so-called “millennial generation” – those born from the late 1970s through the late 1990s. Between 2009 and 2010, internet and mobile media were the only marketing channels to grow in “share of time spent.” Globally, social media use increased by 82 percent last year.
Ford launched its first major social media campaign in 2009 – the “Fiesta Movement,” which supported the launch of the Ford Fiesta in the U.S. Through this program, Ford selected more than 100 online “influencers” to drive a Fiesta for six months before launch and relate their experiences in real time through social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube.
We built on the success and positive experience of the Fiesta Movement in the launch of the 2011 Ford Explorer and 2012 Ford Focus. Our initial reveal for the all-new Explorer was done on Facebook, rather than at an auto show or in a television advertisement. As we neared the launch date, we received many similar questions from thousands of fans, so we used those inquiries to create a responsive video series in which we personally answered the questions and highlighted the vehicle in a personal way. We also used the opportunity to gain customer insights on how to develop the creative effort for new Explorer advertising, which focuses on the joy, freedom and family time of the American road trip. The next phase of our social media launch of the Explorer – called Go! Do! Adventures! – invites everyone to suggest (through the Explorer Facebook page and other partner sites) how they would use the Explorer to create their dream road trip. Explorer fans can submit entries in the form of essays, photos and videos, telling us what dream or adventure the Explorer could help them live out. Based on these entries, we are choosing a number of people to actually live out their adventure for a week. We will capture their experiences and turn them into short films to be distributed online and offline. We will also develop them into a one-hour TV special and traditional television advertisements.
To launch the all-new Ford Focus, we began a campaign called “Focus Rally: America” on Super Bowl Sunday. Instead of running a typical television ad about the vehicle itself, we ran an ad to launch this social media event. Focus Rally: America was a five-week, interactive reality show (in the form of a cross-country rally) developed by the creators of CBS’s Amazing Race and broadcast on Hulu. For the show, we recruited six pairs of people to complete tasks around the country, often using the technology features of the Focus to achieve their goals. The show launched on February 1 on Hulu and was available in real time on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.
We are also actively using Twitter to engage with consumers on all matters, including customer service. We answer questions, provide information and give customers help when needed. Twitter remains the best resource for real-time assessment of what people are saying about us and provides us with a valuable platform for listening.
And, we are making it easier for visitors to our Ford websites to find third-party content about Ford online, particularly with the ever-evolving “The Ford Story” site. We hope that integrating third-party information into our sites will provide a valuable service to consumers and will show our confidence in the vehicles we’re producing.
Through these and other innovative communication methods, we are seeking to stimulate user discussions about our products.
Opportunities for discussions and information monitoring on the Internet are countless. So, in addition to the institutionalized efforts of our Communications and Marketing divisions, we are empowering some of our employees to communicate about Ford on the web by making our “digital participation guidelines” more widely available and giving employees the information they need to communicate successfully in these arenas. We think that allowing employees to have open and real communications within their digital communities sends a clear message that Ford is committed to forging relationships online and being accessible to its audiences. For more on the guidelines, see the social media case study in the Governance section.
Other Nontraditional Marketing
We use a range of other nontraditional marketing and communications efforts to increase awareness of our products and engage consumers and stakeholders. Through our “Drive One” campaign in North America, for example, we offer opportunities for people to experience our vehicles first-hand. The goal of Drive One is to encourage people who might not otherwise be considering a Ford product to see for themselves what we offer. Drive One is based on our belief that, when people drive our vehicles, they will have more positive opinions of our products and will be more likely to buy them. The campaign highlights Ford’s four key brand pillars: safety, quality, green technologies and smart technologies.
Based on the Drive One approach, we hosted our first-ever “global test-drive” event to launch the all-new Focus. For this event, we chose 50 consumers from around the world and flew them to Spain for a two-day driving experience in Focus prototypes, even before the car was in dealerships. We chose the test drivers through our Focus Facebook page. We also asked them to record their experiences and their views and share with others directly through their social networks.
In a similar vein, we hosted a Built Ford Tough Roundup to launch the new 2011 F-150. This test-drive campaign gave thousands of potential customers the opportunity to test drive the new 2011 Ford F-150 months before it arrived in dealer showrooms. The program allowed people to see how the truck compares to competitor vehicles in an acceleration drive, and to test how the new EcoBoost™ engine performed when towing a trailer. The program traveled to seven cities in 2010, including Dallas, Houston, Detroit, Atlanta, Orlando, Los Angeles and Aberdeen, Maryland.
We believe that supporting causes that are important to our customers is a key way to show our commitment to social responsibility and strengthen our community ties. We emphasize this approach through one of our Drive One efforts, the "Drive One 4 UR School" campaign. Through this program, participants test-drive a Ford Explorer, Focus, Fiesta or other new Ford vehicle and help raise money for their local high school. For each test-drive that occurs during the single-day events, Ford donates $20 (up to a total of $6,000 per event) to fund sporting and other activities at the designated school. Since the program’s inception in 2007, and as of December 2010, more than 1,500 Drive One 4 UR School events have taken place across the country, raising more than $5 million to support high schools nationwide. These events have enabled more than 255,000 participants to test-drive Ford products and have proven especially beneficial in getting non-Ford owners into Ford vehicles, as approximately 70 percent of participants did not currently own a Ford product. Feedback from participants shows that both purchase consideration and favorable opinion of the Ford brand improved after individuals had a chance to get behind the wheel and experience the Ford vehicle lineup first-hand. We are continuing this approach with global 2012 Focus launch. We wanted to create a unique program where real-world consumers can be the first to test drive the all-new Focus while also having a great opportunity to give back to the charities they are passionate about. Ford wanted the world to know that when you start up a Focus, you “start more than a car." In doing so, we have donated more than $400,000 to charities globally and are continuing to create a buzz in local markets while the participants drive the Focus and awareness.
We are also working to improve the effectiveness of our auto show presence around the world. Approximately 24 million people attend auto shows in the U.S. alone, so these are important opportunities to engage and share information with potential customers. At all of the major auto shows, we now use a wide range of interactive exhibits that help us better engage visitors and provide the kind of hands-on experiences that keep people at our exhibits longer and influence customer decision making. In fact, our exhibits are now the most interactive of any automaker. At the 2011 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, for example, we had 22 interactive exhibits, including slot car racing, live games and shows, vehicle simulators, and electric vehicle rides on an elevated track. Our exhibits revolve around our core brand attributes of fuel economy, quality, safety and smart technologies. For example, the displays included a hands-on experience with the Fusion Hybrid’s SmartGauge™ with EcoGuide technology, as well as interactive touch tables illustrating the environmental benefits of both soy-based seat cushions and EcoBoost engines.
Finally, we use traditional advertising to inform consumers about our products and our corporate performance. We use three primary advertising strategies: corporate-level communications about Ford Motor Company, advertising about our brands and specific products, and dealer-level product advertising. The goal of these advertising strategies is to sell vehicles. But just as important, we are aiming to increase general awareness about the excellence of our products and our corporate performance among people who are not yet in the market for a vehicle. To develop new products, we respond to market demands through our market research and product development efforts. Through our advertising, we hope to increase interest in and preference for our vehicles and our Company based on the excellence of our products and the positive actions of the Company.
As part of our ONE Ford transformation, we are working to improve the effectiveness of our advertising communications by involving dealers more closely in the development of our advertising strategies. Dealers communicate with our customers every day, and they have special knowledge about consumers’ needs and wants. We included our dealers from the start in our Drive One campaign. In fact, prior to developing Drive One, we sought input from our entire Ford dealer body, and that feedback informed the campaign’s development. Together we arrived at a campaign that works at the corporate, brand, product and dealer levels.
We are also improving alignment between our public relations efforts and our marketing efforts, to improve the effectiveness of all our communications. In 2010, a key focus of our communications was improving customer awareness of our quality and fuel-economy achievements. For example, we launched a new ad series for the Ford Fiesta in which Fiesta Movement agents – those who had been given a Fiesta to drive in advance of the U.S. product launch – describe how the Fiesta delivers best-in-class fuel economy and “smart” technologies, including the voice-activated SYNC® multimedia communications system. We are also highlighting that we make the first consumer car that delivers over 300 hp and yet achieves 31 mpg – the new Ford Mustang V6. And, we are emphasizing the introduction of the EcoBoost engine lineup, including new I-4 and V6 engines, which can deliver 10 to 20 percent better fuel economy and up to 15 percent fewer carbon dioxide emissions than larger-displacement engines.
Increasing Consumer Awareness of Environmental Issues
Ford is also working to increase consumer awareness of key vehicle-related environmental issues, including how drivers can help to improve the environmental performance of their own vehicles.
In 2010, we launched a website to help consumers understand the different electrified vehicle options. The site provides jargon-free explanations of the differences between hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) and pure battery electric vehicles (BEVs), including details on the technologies that make them possible such as battery chemistry, charge ports and regenerative braking. The site is part of Ford’s relentless efforts to educate consumers about the choices offered by the Company’s range of electrified vehicles and to help potential buyers determine which electrified option might best suit their specific driving habits and needs. Consumers who visit the site can review videos, text and cutaway diagrams that illustrate the differences between vehicles like the Ford Fusion Hybrid, the Ford Focus Electric and planned Ford plug-in hybrids. The site does not offer opinions on which vehicle technology is better. Rather, it provides clear explanations about how gasoline, hybrid, plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles work, to help consumers decide which vehicle could be the best option for them.
Our efforts to educate consumers about environmental issues are being recognized nationally. In 2010, Ford won Nielsen’s first Automotive Green Marketer of the Year award. The honor is given to brands that help shape consumer awareness of environmental themes.
We are also educating drivers about environmental issues while they drive. For example, Ford’s new, advanced in-vehicle system – MyFord Touch™ – offers an array of real-time information on fuel-economy performance that can coach drivers to get more miles to the gallon and save on fuel costs. In addition, the MyFord Touch map-based navigation system offers an Eco-Route option that quickly calculates the most fuel-efficient route a driver can take to get from point A to point B.
MyFord Touch also enables drivers to monitor and track their vehicle’s real-time fuel economy performance and mile-per-gallon averages for the past five, 10 and 30 minutes, in the form of a bar chart next to the fuel gauge on the display. Drivers can customize the amount of information provided to meet their needs and hone their eco-driving skills over time.
MyFord Touch is built on the fuel-efficiency “coaching” concept Ford pioneered in its SmartGauge™ with EcoGuide instrument cluster tool for the 2010 Fusion Hybrid. This tool is also available on the all-new 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid. The system provides real-time fuel economy data and promotes fuel-efficient driving by showing a graphic of growing leaves and flowers.
We are launching a similar system in Europe called Ford EcoMode. Similar to EcoGuide, EcoMode helps educate the driver to achieve improved real-world fuel economy. It was first introduced on the Ford Focus ECOnetic and will be implemented as an option in more European Ford models in the future.
We have also developed eco-driving tips that help drivers improve their fuel economy by almost 25 percent. We provide these tips on our website and through a Ford Driving Skills for Life online training program. We started providing eco-driving training in 2000 in Europe and have since expanded it to the U.S. and Asia. For more information on our eco-driving training programs, please see the Climate Change section.
- Economy Data
- Environment Data
- Society Data