Wednesday, November 11, 2009

User Generated Ad Campaigns Come of Age

Jim Farley, Ford's VP of Marketing, gave a thoroughly revealing and insightful presentation at the JD Power Automotive Marketing Conference last month.

He was particularly forthcoming about Ford’s marketing strategy, showing examples from more than a dozen initiatives across every budget range and media platform. What he seemed most excited about were the relatively low cost, user generated/crowd sourcing campaigns like the Fiesta Movement introduced earlier in the year to support the launch of the 2011 Fiesta.

He showed various clips submitted by users "that didn't cost a dime" but more importantly provided buzz, customer feedback and probably a treasure trove of ideas for future campaigns.

The initiative has generated hundreds of submissions like the one above.  Regarding performance, Ford provided the following stats to Mashable:
  • 4.3 million+YouTube views thus far
  • 500,000+ Flickr views
  • 3 million+ Twitter impression
  • 50,000 interested potential customers, 97% of which don’t own a Ford currently.
Just last week, an article in iMedia colorfully described mass collaboration as the single biggest marketing trend.

"It's no secret ... that user-generated content was a sucker punch to the jaw of the marketing world over the past several years. A fundamental shift has now occurred in which brands have become a conversation -- and audiences have just as much of a say in the shape of that dialogue as marketing directors and agency copywriters."

And while a marketer with billions to spend was waxing poetic about the power of customer collaboration, Etsy, an online crafts marketplace with a loyal and growing following, ran a contest inviting users to submit 30-second commercials. The contest and subsequent submissions got the attention of none other than Bob Garfield at Ad Age, who was effusive in his praise and stark in his prediction of a new order.

"The results are positively remarkable. The 10 semi-finalists are as a group better thought-out and realized than any 10 random commercial running on TV anywhere in the world. And a whole lot more charming," Garfield said.

Is there any doubt that user generated ad campaigns have come of age?