Two countries. One car. When Ford launched its Fiesta sub-compact car last year in Canada and the U.S., which country executed the best marketing campaign?
The Canadians built their campaign around the theme, “The Little Car that Could.” The Americans produced a multi-channel campaign touting the slogan, “It’s a pretty big deal,” backed up by a powerful social media pre-launch campaign.
CANADA: The Little Car that Could
To build interest, the Canadians sent out eight Fiesta cars to tour major Canadian cities prior to implementing a direct mail campaign. Then Ford Canada sent out a series of emails about winning a Ford Fiesta, which generated 84,000 leads (73,500 were net new leads for Ford).
Trying to build on the excitement that Ford Fiesta was a vehicle for creating extra special moments not just a small car, Ford Canada kicked off a direct mail campaign targeting 30 to 45 year old urbanites.
In an effort to grab their attention, an oversized slide-out direct mail piece was created. The format allowed Ford Canada to include lots of graphs and information, including a head-to-head comparison chart of Ford Fiesta against the competition and emphasizing the great gas mileage of 40 mpg.
The entire campaign centered on driving home three benefits (1) design, (2) technology and (3) performance.
The Canadian Ford slide/sleeve brochure was personalized and variably printed to show prospects their specific mileage based on their geographic location and the mileage in that area.
A one-time mailing of 101,000 pieces was sent out across the country with selected prospects being offered a $500 purchase or lease offer.
As a result the Fiesta became their number one selling car domestically in Canada and boasted $1 million in incremental sales and the ROI for this campaign was 224%.
AMERICA: It’s a Pretty Big Deal
Before spending one dollar on traditional marketing, Ford Motor Company America initiated a social media campaign named the Ford Fiesta Movement. Out of 4,000 applicants, 100 individuals with significant social clout were chosen to blog, tweet, and YouTube about the Ford Fiesta six months before the 2011 launch. The applicants’ YouTube video posts alone generated 640,000 views.
According to social media blogger Jeff Bullas, the results of the Ford Fiesta Movement were as follows:
- 11 million Social Networking impressions
- 5 million engagements on social networks (people sharing and receiving)
- 11,000 videos posted
- 15,000 tweets (not including retweets)
- 13,000 photos
- 50,000 hand raisers who have seen the product in person or on a video who said that they want to know more about it the Ford Fiesta
Then Ford launched It’s a Pretty Big Deal television campaign with all the bells, whistles, street performers and confetti. The commercial first aired on American Idol.
According to a Dec. 10, 2011 AutoBlog.com reported, Ford Fiesta was in 4th place in the U.S. with approximately 3,473 sales. In a March 2011 Green Cars Report, Ford Fiesta sold 6,700 units in the U.S. in February 2011. By year-end 2011, Ford Motor Company sold a total of 69,000 Ford Fiestas in the U.S.
So Who Won?
Based on the figure of $1 billion in sales, Canadians sold 76,923 cars at $13,000 a car and Americans 69,000 cars. So the Canadians win by sales. Unfortunately I don’t have the budgets each agency spent to achieve these sales but based on research I suspect the American agency far outspent the Canadians based on TV program placement. The results are also impressive considering that the size of the Canadian market is much smaller when compared to the U.S. market.
The moral of this marketing launch story, is a variable data direct mail piece backed by a simple car tour can result in more sales for less marketing spend than a social media, TV, radio campaign with twice the agency billable and hard costs, but not twice the results.