Why Ford’s Fiesta 2011 Launch Is a ‘Pretty Big Deal’

Ford tonight will break a new campaign for the Fiesta 2011, a move that follows what, until now, has largely been a social media-focused effort.

A 60-second spot, which launches during American Idol, opens with two consumers discussing the vehicle’s push-button start feature, while seated inside the car. The spot then highlights the Fiesta’s different capabilities in a “whimsical” way, said Matt VanDyke, Ford’s U.S. marketing communications director.

Print ads, meanwhile, tout the Fiesta’s fuel efficiency. Copy reads: “The Fiesta gets 40 miles per gallon. 21 hybrids do not.” The ads will run in the June issues of GQ and InStyle. The tagline, “It’s a pretty big deal,” is the same for all of the new creative—billboards and digital ads included. (The Ford Motor Co. spent $932 million on advertising in 2009, per the Nielsen Co.)

The campaign is a “paradigm shift” for Ford, since it’s the first time the automaker has marketed a new car using social media, and then followed up with traditional media, said VanDyke. The strategy was to establish brand awareness prior to entering the U.S. small car market. In the first 18 months, Ford sold 750,000 Fiesta 2011 units in Europe and Asia. In the U.S., however, Ford doesn’t have a small car presence. Hence, a social media campaign, dubbed “Fiesta Movement,” which kicked off last year to fuel the necessary hype, VanDyke said.

“We’ve had a great amount of success in building overall recognition and awareness of Fiesta—both the name and the product that was coming. We’ve had incredible numbers and impressions on FiestaMovement.com and YouTube . . . but now we really need to take the story to the masses,” said VanDyke.

There is also social media in this stage of the launch. Ford has created webisodes featuring Fiesta agents talking about why the new car is “better than the competition.” Jonathan Beebe, digital communications manager at Ford, said the automaker “selected some of our most creative, funny and socially vibrant agents” to star in the videos. The six webisodes, which launched last week, have already garnered more than 500,000 views, per Ford.

The campaign includes multicultural advertising in Hispanic markets like Los Angeles, Miami, Houston and New York. A microsite, Readypatumundo.com (“Ready for your world”), introduces Spanish-speaking consumers to the vehicle’s new features. Additionally, Ford last month held a casting call for African-American consumers interested in appearing in a TV spot for the Fiesta, which breaks June 1 on the BET network.

Ford’s lead creative agency is Team Detroit. Zubi handled Hispanic ads, while UniWorld Group oversaw African-American ads.

VanDyke declined to disclose the campaign’s cost, but said “it’s one of the biggest initiatives for [Ford] this year.”