Drivers switch to Ford…sort of

Like all US automakers Ford is looking to turn things around but it wants consumers to play a major role in helping spread the word...

Like all US automakers Ford is looking to turn things around but it wants consumers to play a major role in helping spread the word about its automobiles. So it should be no surprise that consumer generated media is driving the company's latest marketing stunt.

Ford recently allowed dozens of consumers, who purchased cars from its competitors, to temporarily swap their new car with a Ford as part of an elaborate stunt intended to get objective opinions about the differences between the two, reports The New York Times. The results will begin appearing on television today when Ford officially launches its "Swap My Ride" campaign. The commercials will feature some of the consumers who were asked to drive Fords for a week instead of their newly purchased vehicles.

In order to ensure objectivity the automaker created a make-believe market research firm to conduct the effort. “We wanted raw, unbiased opinions,” said Toby Barlow, co-president and executive creative director at JWT Team Detroit, Ford’s longtime creative shop. “We didn’t want them to think they were in a TV commercial. We needed a trick to get real objectivity and honest responses.”

Ford's sales dropped 14.4% in August due to a declining market analysts are blaming on rising mortgage payments and turmoil in the financial markets, the AP reports. According to the AP, the company blames its declining sales on "efforts to wean itself of low-profit sales to rental car companies and other fleet buyers."

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