Ad Age reports on Ford lending 100 new Ford Fiestas to especially selected bloggers in exchange for their independence and a share of their souls. 4000 applied but only 100 were young, good-looking, could string two sentences together and had the sycophancy gene. I’m being harsh; the dozen or so bloggers I checked out were interesting enough. A couple of B-grade celebs snuck in there but they’ve chosen people from diverse backgrounds, skewed towards creative types. The totality of the their output – Flickr, Twitter, YouTube and blogs is aggregated on the Fiesta Movement site.
It shows again the progressive credentials of large American companies. They leap into new media because they are hungry for first mover advantage and the publicity that results. The combination of new media and big business is newsworthy (don’t ask me why) and the Fiesta Movement will generate millions of dollars in PR.
I saw a Forrester report that said Japanese consumers were more engaged with social media than Americans but Japanese businesses were slower to develop social media applications than Americans. I’m guessing this is because their media are less willing to give free publicity just because business has discovered a new marketing tool.
Of course, the potential of this promotion is not just what the bloggers say about the Ford Fiesta on their blog but the effect that 100 different streams of writing/video blogging have on the web more broadly; the conversations about the conversations.
It’s risky for the brand because bad things can happen when you surrender control of the message to people who don’t have a stake in your brand. They might be just a little too honest, though from what I’ve seen so far, they’re all too excited to be critical.
But there is a risk too for the bloggers, whose readers may find the car references spurious and commercial. Could damage their franchise but I think 95/100 will finish well in front. In all, I believe this is the biggest and boldest social media experiment in the world today. My hunch is that it’s going to work extremely well. And if it does, the new media dollar has just been revalued.
Here’s Judson Laipply’s fairly compelling video application to be included in the 100:
The marketing term for this is a No-Brainer.