• Feb 9, 2011
2011 Ford Explorer – Click above for high-res image gallery

Jim Farley, Ford's Group Vice President, Global Marketing, Sales and Service, gave the keynote speech at the Chicago Auto Show this morning, and the only way it could have been more on-topic is if he had given his speech via Facebook chat.

Before Farley announced the new "What Would You Go Do?" campaign for the 2011 Ford Explorer, he laid out how the Explorer's Facebook launch set a new tone for how Ford has conversations with its customers, and even set a new tone for the company itself. Follow the jump for more and Ford's press release on the Explorer competition.

Photos copyright ©2011 Drew Phillips / AOL

[Source: Ford]

Toward the end of his speech, Farley made the point repeatedly that Ford considers itself in large part a technology company now, not "just a car company." That makes his earlier point about Ford moving into social media to "have a conversation with consumers" much easier to understand.

Now, that's not exactly new: Our electronic wastebins are choking on press releases touting every automaker's desire to "engage" with consumers. Farley's point was that, based on what Ford learned with its Fiesta Experience campaign, the company reworked its entire advertising model for the Explorer to take advantage of social media. It launched the SUV onlne seven months early to start a conversation with consumers and debate about how the vehicle should be promoted. Its page attracted over 140,000 Facebook fans, and Ford used their ideas when crafting the Explorer's more traditional marketing campaign.

According to Farley, people said they didn't want just another set of commercials speaking about features and gas mileage; they wanted Ford to "be unscripted" and "celebrate the love of the road trip." That turned into commercials like this:

Of course, it's not like lifestyle commercials are new - Chevrolet was apparently talking to the same group of people when it came up with its "Runs Deep campaign" (but not the tagline), and luxury brands have been doing this for decades. But how Ford is maintaining and growing these social media initiatives over time to support its traditional marketing campaigns moves is a kind of integration we can't remember seeing from an American car brand. Ever.

The other big point Farley made was Ford being "not just a car company, but in many ways a technology company, to democratize technology." The integration of the Internet's possibilities - real-time information, browsing, search, navigation, continuous and fluid updates - into the driving experience is one of the key battlegrounds for all car makers. Ford sees its experiments and solutions for that issue as going even beyond the car. Farley mentioned a model like an Apple Store's Genius Bar where customers can get answers to issues, or a Best Buy-like Geek Squad that can take those answers on the road, in addition to on- and off-site seminars to teach people everything the company's cars can do.

It's early, yes – marketing won't do it all. Ford's real test will come in these new cars being on the roads for a while. But from here, it looks like the new Ford is still doing its best to be, well, new.

Show full PR text
Ford Explorer 'Go. Do. Adventures' Campaign Takes the Conversation on the Road, Continues the Momentum

• Ford is amplifying the conversation about the new Ford Explorer by kicking off "Go. Do. Adventures," a program that asks consumers to suggest how they would use an Explorer to create their own unique adventure

• Consumers can submit their ideas in the form of essays, photos and videos through several websites, such as www.ford.com/explorer and Facebook. Ford will select the most unique responses to be brought to life with the all-new Explorer

• The latest chapter in the launch of the reinvented Ford Explorer builds on the success of the vehicle and campaign. Each part of the campaign has integrated online media, ranging from the live Facebook reveal to the ongoing dialogue on Facebook, as well as the resulting traditional print and TV ads

CHICAGO, Feb. 9, 2011 – If you had a Ford Explorer for a week, what would you do and where would you go? This question lays the groundwork for the new "Go. Do. Adventures" program that invites consumers to suggest how they would use an Explorer to create their own unique adventure.

"We want people to get out there and experience their environment with friends and family in a fresh new way, and the new Explorer is the best vehicle to do it in," said Jim Farley, Ford group vice president, Marketing, Sales and Service. "Ford has reinvented the Explorer, and with this new campaign we're inviting consumers to be just as inventive by coming up with their ultimate adventure."

Consumers can submit stories in the form of essays, photos and videos through several websites, such as www.ford.com/explorer and Facebook. The responses will showcase both key product features and unique American locations and attractions. Those people whose ideas are selected will then be able to live out their dream adventure, courtesy of the all-new Explorer. All of the action will be captured and documented through the Explorer Facebook page.

"This provides a platform for a larger audience to experience Explorer. We started the conversation by revealing Explorer on Facebook and are continuing to advance that dialogue online," said Eric Peterson, Explorer communications manager. "We have actively answered our fans' questions, but now we have an opportunity to create advocates and show how Explorer can enable you to do the things you always dreamed of."

Additionally, through collaboration with Outside Media and its network of unique assets and experts, Ford will select the most compelling stories to film, and produce short films to be distributed online and through traditional media. Ultimately, the content will be developed into a one-hour TV special.

For news releases, related materials and high-resolution photos and video, visit www.media.ford.com.
Follow at www.facebook.com/ford, www.twitter.com/ford or www.youtube.com/fordvideo1

Building on success

The current marketing campaign for the reinvented 2011 Explorer, Go. Do., is an example of how a consumer-oriented approach can influence advertising creative and generate online discussion. It began with the Ford Explorer Facebook engagement that showed the all-new SUV's live Facebook reveal on July 26.

The Go. Do. campaign continued evolving through Facebook as Ford engaged fans and prospective Explorer customers in one-on-one conversations using texts, videos and images. This led to significant Facebook growth – more than 138,000 fans and growing – and increased anticipation for the new Explorer. Explorer fans also can get real-time answers from Ford experts as well as view video responses from engineers and celebrities such as Bret Michaels and Snoop Dogg.

The unfiltered feedback influenced more traditional aspects of the campaign, including TV and print advertising. The result is an unscripted, organic look at American families and the American road trip, with a mini-documentary feel to TV spots.

To see more of the creative work and how the reinvented Ford Explorer is changing the way consumers think about SUVs, log on to www.ford.com/explorer or www.facebook.com/fordexplorer.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 3 Years Ago
      Jared, at the St. Louis car show the Ford rep from Detroit said the Explorer is replacing the mini-van so I do not think they will add a 2 speed transfer case and skid plates like some of us want. The wife looked at it, sat in it found out the 3rd row seat is not removable and said to much like a mini-van, so we are opting for the Grand Cherokee Overland.

      The Ford guy said the C-max is to small for most families.
      • 3 Years Ago
      What does "unscripted" mean?
      PR manager to writer: Write me an "unscripted" script to use in our commercial
      Writer: What?
      Is this unscripted campaign that brought us the idiots that don't know about the car telling us how great and advanced it is? You know the "cool" moms commercial.
      As the industry's reliability goes up.. most car companies are just as reliable. They will need to convince the public why pick their model over the competitors. Tech stuff seems to be the differentiator.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Ford is doing a good job bringing tech to cars. But in the end, Google will own this market. Like so many other markets, since they have all the data people want (maps, business locations, etc.) it's their market to take and they will take it.
        • 3 Years Ago
        You assume I'm forgetting MS is selling Windows Automotive right now. I did not. Microsoft charges for this. They charge for the OS license, even before you start talking about writing apps on the platform.

        Some google apps do cost money. But you don't get free maps on WinCE either.

        Automakers don't want to make a system from scratch. Right now they farm it out to companies like Harmon Kardon who charge a lot and then charge more for continuing support. With Android, they get the system done for them. And the cost of Google Maps per unit is a lot lower than paying Harmon Kardon for a custom system.

        I agree that Google making a car-specific build soon would be very helpful to their case. I expect them to do so.

        Sync is an interesting example. It's built on a Microsoft platform, but huge parts of it are not Microsoft's. All that voice input and output people crow about comes from Nuance, not Microsoft.

        The data problem will be solved in one of a couple ways. OnStar and Kindle use one solution, it's part of another subscription you already want (er, well, someone does). Sync uses another, you have to buy your own subscription and connect your phone to use it. Another solution (which Sync uses also) is to use WiFi data when the car is parked at home, you can update map data at night. But in the end, I believe the phone companies will alter their data plans so you can have multiple data devices on one account. All your 3G devices (iPad, Sony NGP, car) will come under one bill which is much less than the cost of all of them separately.

        But make no mistake, this problem will be solved. 30 years ago, it was expensive and rare to have a data connection in a building. 20 years ago, it was available but far from common. 15 years ago they were everywhere and wireless was coming along. Every vending machine now sends back reports when it is empty or out of order. Now you can point your phone at an item in a store (ideally at the barcode) and it'll look up the item and the price over your data connection. There's no reason to think cars won't be connected within 10 years.
        • 3 Years Ago
        This isn't about automatic transmissions. It's about telematics.

        My father just bought an iPhone because his car broke down in an area he was unfamiliar with. He though it'd be nice to be able to find a car repair place, tow truck or car dealer. This tech in his life is not going to change his driving experience except when he wants it to. Like, for example if he ever got lost, not that he would ever admit that he did. ;)
        • 3 Years Ago
        Yes, Google has all the data people want. But that doesn't mean that Microsoft and Bing don't. I actually prefer Bing Maps over Google Maps.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @spin cycle I have played with Sync in other people's cars, but I don't have it in my Mustang...for the car to update its data via your home Wifi, I assume that it supports encrypted keys (WPA2 with TKIP, at a minimum). It it doesn't I'd hate to have to have a separate wireless router that's behind a firewall from my main router, specifically so that I don't have to worry about people snooping my wireless network and retrieving sensitive data from unencrypted communications.

        Further, I'm somewhat afraid that a potentially weak encryption standard on the car-side would allow for someone to snoop the public keys during the initial handshake.
        • 3 Years Ago
        I'm just hoping that Android starts to make its way into aftermarket in-car infotainment and navigation systems. Pioneer's higher end navigation systems run a version of Windows CE, but I have a feeling that the lightweight implementation of the Linux kernel in Android would significantly improve performance, as well as lower OS/hardware costs. I don't know what processor/chipset the Pioneer systems currently run, but if the new Playstation Portable is going to have a quad-core ARM processor, running at 2 Ghz, one would think that a system that merely displays maps and videos could run something significantly less powerful and cheaper. I mean, the iPhone4 gets away with only an ARM single core 1 Ghz chip. The Android phones are getting dual-core processors this year, and with Honeycomb (Android 3.0) being optimized for tablets, you'd think that it would be a small stretch to port that software to what could essentially be just a tablet.

        What's the need for the huge form factor in the current dual-DIN navigation systems if all you really need is a decent screen, a small solid state hard drive, an amplifier, a motherboard with a video card and sound card, a power supply, and whatever I/O busses you'd require? Most people, at this point, would eschew the CD/DVD player function, simply to be able to plug their iPod/iPhone/Zune HD in and push songs and video over USB, especially with USB 3.0 as the new, extremely high speed/bandwidth standard.

        Maybe I should start working for Pioneer in their R&D thinktank labs.
        • 3 Years Ago
        The real problem is bringing too much technology to cars.
        Eventually there will be no driving skills required (there's precious little now with the demise of manual transmissions for most brands), Mommy will brake your car for you when you're texting Suzie and get too close to the moron in front of you, Mommy will accelerate your car to keep up with the moron in front of you, and Mommy will even steer your car back into the lane if you wander...oops, that tech is here now!!!

        I'm no luddite, just a gearhead that loves to drive and occasionally listen to a little Foghat after 6th gear. Ford is the end of driving if this keeps up.

        Unfortunately, Ford has a better idea that will appeal to a significant portion of the riding (I don't say driving because they can't drive...they sure can text though!) public and further dumb down the entire automotive scene.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Apparently Ford needs a "Genius Bar" (or perhaps a drive up window) for MyFordTouch and MyLincolnTouch-equipped vehicles...