Social Media Week in New York started big with Ford's announcement this morning with a new Ford Fiesta ad campaign that will use content created only by users - in fact, it'll be their first ever user generated campaign that spans the entire advertising year.
Ford are focusing on creating a team of 100 social influencers who will create the advertising material that Ford will distribute through a mix of paid media, social media and experiential events. These will be the new Ford Fiesta Agents - I'm just glad they didn't opt for Guru or Ninja. Phew.
So the content the agents create can be in whatever form they choose to do. Ford gives them cars, a camera and in addition to this open remit of any content goes, the group will also have to complete challenges with properties such as American Idol, the X Games and music festival, Bonnaroo.
User generated content is not a new game for advertisers but so far it's been used as axillery content as done by the likes of Nokia, Coke and even Ford themselves. But if this truly is an an entire advertising campaign with content ONLY made by this elite group, then it will be a first. (Note: if anyone knows any different, let me know. We came up with Jones' Soda and Threadless but that's less about advertising and more about product).
Keith Koeppen, Ford advertising and media manager, looks at it like this:
Consumers – Millennials in particular – like being a part of the brands they feel represent them. This demographic is accustomed to creating content about their lives, so it just makes sense to give their creativity a bigger platform with greater scale. It’s all part of the democratization of media.
Of course, the Ford marketers are pretty savvy and they aren't going to just choose anyone. I bet there will be a healthy number of filmmakers on board or at least those who want to either get a free car or become internet famous. Potentially you could create a rather inexpensive campaign but there will still need to be a contingency plan in case this all goes wrong - and you'll need the social team going full speed to keep the momentum moving on this. Good thing this is a Ford campaign rather than a GM one.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out. With 100 people roaming around in Ford Fiestas with video cameras in tow, I'm sure they will get something out of it they can use. But is the future of advertising? Can something like this take over how we look at integrating community and social into the rest of the marketing mix? Doritos has played user generated ads with their SuperBowl ad campaign for the second year in a row, so maybe things are looking that way.
Want to have a chance to be one of the 100 lucky winners, I mean, agents? All you have to do is apply with a video saying why you would be the best Ford Fiesta agent, and you could have a brand new car for the summer.