Ford launches social campaign to tout fuel efficiency

DEARBORN, MI: Ford is promoting the versatility and 22 miles-per-gallon fuel economy of its F-150 EcoBoost truck through a Facebook-focused social media contest.

DEARBORN, MI: Ford is promoting the versatility and 22 miles-per-gallon fuel economy of its F-150 EcoBoost truck through a Facebook-focused social media contest.

The company chose eight individuals from various cities throughout the US to compete to achieve the best fuel efficiency each day through August 27, with points awarded based on each contestant's ranking in comparison to the others.

To boost the campaign with a social-good tie-in, each contestant is required to use their vehicle for an event that represents goodwill and has an underlying social purpose for their community. Contestants will receive additional points based on the number of volunteers they can attract to their event.

"We wanted their creativity and their commitment to community to shine through," said Craig Daitch, US manager of social media at Ford.

The winning contestant will receive a year's supply of Shell Nitrogen Rich Gasoline. Additionally, two gas pumps in the winning contestant's community will offer free gas (up to 15 gallons per vehicle) for a period of two hours and 22 minutes on September 2 - the time period signifying the EcoBoost's 22 MPG efficiency.

“We wanted a great way to reach out and tell our story when it comes to our dedication to fuel-efficient vehicles, regardless of the class they are in,” Daitch said.

The campaign will take place primarily on Facebook, but will also be supported through Twitter and the hashtag #ecoboostchallenge, and on thefordstory.com, a microsite the company is using to profile the contestants and share content.

Ford's social media and marketing teams identified eight truck-friendly cities that represent key markets for the brand to find the contestants. They settled on San Diego, Louisville, Pittsburgh, Raleigh, Denver, Orlando, Kansas City and Houston.

From that point, the team conducted research to find a contestant in each city who represented juxtaposition to the typical Ford F-150 driver, and held an influential position within the community. The team made an effort to find people with a large social graph, not just in the sense of social media followers, but also in their community.

“Earned media is a huge component in determining the success of our campaign,” Daitch said. “We wanted to allow them to carry the message of fuel efficiency and the message of the F-150 challenge.”

In addition to Ford's internal team, the campaign is supported by Blue State Digital and Team Detroit, part of the Ford/WPP Communication team.

Ford frequently uses social media for marketing and communications purposes. The company was a pioneering brand on Google+; maintains an active presence on Twitter, Facebook and other social channels; and used Facebook to support the launch of the 2011 Ford Explorer.

The 2011 Explorer launch represented the first time a major auto company eschewed an auto show reveal in favor of a social media launch.

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