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BusINess » Business Technology Transportation » Ford targets social media

Ford targets social media

A Ford F-150 is displayed Wednesday during the 2011 Chicago Auto Show media preview at McCormick Place in Chicago. Ford Motor Co. announced Wednesday it will focus on social media and other new advertising strategies for 2011 vehicles. (Photograph by Thomas Quinn/The Times.)

A Ford F-150 is displayed Wednesday during the 2011 Chicago Auto Show media preview at McCormick Place in Chicago. Ford Motor Co. announced Wednesday it will focus on social media and other new advertising strategies for 2011 vehicles.
(Photograph by Thomas Quinn/The Times.)

Ford Motor Co. announced Wednesday it will focus on social media and other new advertising strategies for 2011 vehicles.

Jim Farley, marketing chief for Ford, told the crowd at the Chicago Auto Show media preview that the only media that grew in 2009 and 2010 was online and mobile, and that information is changing Ford’s marketing campaigns.

“With 500 million people on Facebook, we can reach more potential customers in a more personal way,” Farley said.

Derek Rucker, an associate professor of marketing at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, said social media can be effective as an advertising tool, but it has its limits.

“With a Super Bowl ad you know 100 million people are seeing that,” Rucker said. “You don’t know for sure how many people are seeing your online campaigns.”

Ford launched the redesigned 2011 Explorer through Facebook last summer and the sports utility vehicle now has roughly 140,000 fans. Farley said the Dearborn, Mich.-based company used feedback from consumers to create its “Go. Do.” campaign, which emphasizes what people will do with an Explorer.

“Instead of talking to consumers, it lets consumers talk to us as a brand,” Rucker said.

The Explorer is exclusively produced at Ford’s Chicago Assembly Plant on the South Side. Ford already brought 1,200 new jobs to the area last year with the launch of the 2011 Explorer, and Farley said things are “running full steam ahead.” The automaker anticipates it will need another shift to meet increasing demand.

Now Ford is asking what “Go. Do. Adventure” customers would dream of if they could go anywhere in America for one week.

Consumer videos, essays and photo submissions will be accepted on the official company website and Ford Explorer’s Facebook page. Winners will have their road trip paid for, complete with a a one-hour TV special and individual short spots.

Ford also is launching the new Focus in one month and is using social media to build hype with the “Focus Rally.” Ford engineered an “Amazing Race” style competition between six teams of two.

Farley said Ford will concentrate on other new media tools going forward, specifically mobile communication.

“We’re not just a car company, we’re a tech company,” Farley said.

Today

For complete coverage, including a show floor map and ticket information, read the Chicago Auto Show special section in today’s Times.

The Chicago Auto Show, at McCormick Place in Chicago, is open to the public Friday through Feb. 20. For more information, visit chicagoautoshow.com.

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