Ford are known for their innovative partnerships across many different media. But as the
UK’s leading car manufacturer, tactical campaigns are vital for protecting all-important
market share of new car sales. They are a regular national press advertiser, who have to
assert both quality and value for money in their messaging. For their Q3 activity we took the
opportunity to adopt a truly ‘newsbrand’ approach, which answered their brief and helped
deliver sales leads vital to the wider campaign.
Background & Objectives
With Southern European economies still floundering, car sales across Europe are struggling.
With that being the case, Ford have put an even greater onus this year on delivering UK
sales to cover other markets’ shortfall. As the leading car manufacturer in the UK (13.8%
market share), Ford continue to face competition from Vauxhall and Volkswagen, and to a
lesser extent the lower end models of luxury brands such as BMW and Audi. The recession
in the UK has meant that both price and value for money have becoming increasingly
important factors in automotive purchase (now above style, comfort and even safety), so it
was clear from an early stage that the activity needed to communicate the fact that Ford’s
product range offers value for money in addition to excellent vehicle technologies and of
course a great drive.
With Fiesta being the biggest-selling car in the country and Focus third, Ford chose these
nameplates to lead their tactical sales activity, along with B-MAX and Ka. The objective was
simple: sales. This means using media to drive consumers onto garages’ forecourts for test
drives, put also to engage with them earlier in the purchase funnel by equipping them with
dealers’ sales brochures. To do this with print alone would have either meant the
implementation of an unfamiliar direct response mechanism or the usage of weighty,
expensive and potentially wasteful loose inserts.
Insight & Strategy
The role for communications was to create broad national awareness of the Ford tactical
messaging, but also to reach all of our target audiences while they were active in the
consideration phase. This meant that our planned media behaviour was to be very targeted,
by using relevant environments for the varying audiences. We quickly realised that this
meant newsbrands, but we’d struggle to deliver on Ford’s need for quantifiable sales leads
(test drives and brochure requests) through the usage of newsprint alone. As such our
strategy was to use newsbrands to target consumers at all three stages of the purchase
funnel. Firstly: newspapers’ huge numbers would drive our reach and fulfil our awareness
objective, making everyone aware of the great value for money Ford were offering.
Secondly: we’d run highly interactive tablet activity with these same core newsbrands; so
that once aware of the offers readers could then learn about each of the vehicles in a more
engaging and intuitive way. Finally: we would then use the newsbrands’ respective sites to
target users specifically in the market for a new car, and drive them onto Ford’s own
channels where they could find more information and request both brochures and test
drives. In this way we would reach our target audiences at all possible stages of their route
to purchase, and edge them towards choosing a Ford.
After selecting core newsbrand partners that would offer us the most cost-effective means
of reaching our target audiences across all their different platforms (Times, Telegraph and
Guardian), we set to work building a highly targeted campaign yet broad-reaching
campaign. In print we launched with pages to drive impact, followed by smaller fractional
sizes to maintain frequency. For our tablet activity, we quickly realised that whilst it would
be simple to requisition old digital assets to create our digital banners, MPU’s and skies, it
was clear that we required more specialist expertise to build our tablet insertions. So we
enlisted the help of Adnostic, who built bespoke tablet creatives for us for all four campaign
nameplates. These not only allowed readers to preview each of the vehicles and find out
about Ford’s more detailed financing options, but they worked with the same build of
animation as used in Ford’s digital outdoor activity (ie; escalator panels), ensuring
consistency of messaging across very different media. For our digital activity on the
newsbrands’ sites we either bought impactful roadblocks on motoring homepages
(destinations for anyone interested in cars) or we targeted users based on their web
history. If they had come onto the newsbrand’s site from an automotive one or had recently
viewed or searched automotive listings, they were targeted with frequency-capped Ford
inventory. This kept our costs down and ensured we were fulfilling our buying strategy of
specifically targeting users actively searching for a new car.
In addition to delivering a minimum of 90% coverage and a frequency of 8 OTS against each
of our seven target audiences, our digital and tablet activity drove.brochure.requests.and.test.drives.