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Pitch Exclusive: Ford India - Grit in Wheels

05-September-2011
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Pitch Exclusive: Ford India - Grit in Wheels

The Indian automobile industry is surely heating up as we are about to witness one of the boldest marketing initiatives with Ford India’s ‘Swap Your Drive’ campaign. Ford India is gearing up to give tough competition to other players in the market with an integrated campaign slated to launch next week, which will openly challenge the might of the Maruti Swifts, Hyundai i10s, Toyota Fortuners and many more in this space.

‘Swap Your Drive’ campaign started with the company engaging directly with actual consumers. It selected nine competition car owners in the cities of Delhi, Mumbai and Ludhiana, through its research agencies, who were given the opportunity to swap their vehicles with Ford models – Figo, Classic and Endeavour – for a week-long test drive. The company then gathered real reactions and candid feedback from these competition car owners to create content for the commercials.

Co-creating with consumers
Explaining the reason for such a move, Sriram Padmanabhan, General Manager, Consumer Marketing, Ford India, said, “Our consumers were giving positive feedback on their experience with Ford, based on the drive dynamics along with the way our vehicles interact with consumers. We want to amplify this fact in our communication.” The other strategy is to target the ‘avoiders’ or those who do not have any knowledge or interest in the brand. The commercials will openly display the names of the rival brands and their owners praising Ford, which will definitely stimulate people who haven’t even tried Ford’s test drive to take notice of the brand.

Earlier, Ford launched Fiesta Experience giving four real-life professionals the chance to express their moments with the car. Thus, time and again Ford has tried to build a deeper connect with consumers through co-creation and direct engagement. “Consumer knows best. We work with consumers for our better future. He seeks value now, and not driven by lowest price denominator in the automobile segment, as he sees car purchase as a long-term investment,” explained Nigel E Wark, Executive Director, Sales and Marketing for Ford India. Thus, it is Ford’s marketing strategy to develop products in sync with the demands of the consumer, through a direct interplay of interests. “Real people are our brand ambassadors, we do not pay them, they simply tell what they feel,” shared Padmanabhan. To this, Wark added, “We are delighted that this endeavour is bringing social interactions to life as it is more of a customer’s story and not the usual product launch.” Thus, the choice of these three models indicates Ford’s strategy of covering small car, mid-size and luxury car segments. Moreover, the two cities of Mumbai and Delhi were strategically chosen as they form a major chunk of Ford’s activation programmes and having a spread of cultures and language in the commercials.

The company is launching an integrated media campaign (print, TV and digital) and will continue to promote the concept through dealership engagements, weekend test drives and social media interactions. Though executed by JWT, the commercials are not doctored, as the company claims. Consumer reactions are natural and in the affirmative as three rival car owners (from the campaign) have already booked their Fords! Thus, echoing Wark, the initiative may not guarantee success, but it will definitely impact consumer interest. “Wait for three months for us to share its impact on sales!” he exclaimed.

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