PR team: Ford Dealers of Western New York (Buffalo, NY) and Eric Mower & Associates (Buffalo, NY)
Campaign: A Cutting "Edge" New Year's Celebration
Duration: Mid-December 2006 to January 1, 2007
Budget: $10,000, plus a $25,000 sponsorship fee for New Year's event
As the Ford Dealers of Western New York (WNY Ford) geared up to launch the new 2007 Ford Edge, it wanted a bold introduction that would convey the importance of the vehicle to the local economy.
About 92% of the car's body is made in Buffalo, NY, and all the sheet metal is stamped there, notes Chuck Basil, WNY Ford chairman.
WNY Ford challenged longtime AOR Eric Mower & Associates (EMA) to develop a nontraditional effort.
"Our goal was to create buzz and word-of-mouth activity and excitement around the launch, and also to create a sense of pride among employees here locally," says Mary Beth Popp, EMA director of brand PR. The idea was to hoist the 4,000-pound Ford Edge 140 feet into the air and lower it in tandem with the New Year's Eve ball drop in Buffalo, the second-largest such event in the US. "There are a lot of things we could do to get a story on the news, but we chose this because we wanted people to talk about it," she adds.
The team announced the event at a press conference 10 days in advance, with appearances by the mayor and local Ford dealers. Press materials were distributed, with media also invited to a test lowering the morning of the event. "Obviously we publicized the event, but one of our main focuses was consumer-generated media and word of mouth," Popp notes.
Along with print, radio, and TV coverage, 150,000 spectators watched the event in-person. "At one point, there was a sea of cell phone cameras capturing the live event," says Popp. "It was so impactful visually, that it was hard not to talk about it." Live footage ended up on YouTube. Notes Basil, "We accomplished what we wanted, which is to have people talking about it rather than us talking about it."
EMA continues to provide publicity support for the Ford Edge and the local Ford Stamping Plant's role.