Ford Motor Co. wants consumers to experience - and like - the new Fusion long before it hits showrooms this October. Its Random Acts of Fusion campaign, which went live on Wednesday, kicks off a three-month long initiative, including digital media, radio, broadcast and social media, as well as real-world, "experiential" events, to create a story arc across media channels .
The campaign began with a teaser video on Ford's Fusion Facebook page in which Ryan Seacrest exhorted Ford fans to work together to unlock the next piece of content by accumulating 1,000 likes on the Fusion Facebook page. The goal was reached in approximately 24 hours.
The Random Acts of Fusion campaign begins a deeper partnership with Seacrest, who recently launched a production company. Scott Monty, global head of social media for Ford, wouldn't go into details of the relationship with Seacrest.
"It's part of the Fusion marketing program. We're given a chunk of money with each vehicle launch and expected to be as creative as possible with it," said Monty. He said parts of it are similar to a media buy or a standard celebrity promotional relationship.
But Seacrest's expanding media footprint and production capabilities offer new opportunities. Seacrest will promote the Fusion on his radio show, Facebook and Twitter feeds, and Ford is looking forward to product placement opportunities and possible production of original TV content.
Next week, the first thousand Fusion fans on Facebook will receive a mystery box in the mail containing a View-Master loaded with behind-the-scenes photos of the campaign's production. The last shot will direct them online to unlock RandomActsofFusion.com, a website that will act as a hub for all the content created during the campaign.
Marisa Bradley, consumer media communications manager, who is leading the social media elements of the campaign, said her team wanted to build on Ford's previous campaigns for the Fiesta, Explorer and Escape. "It's an all-new sedan transforming a boring category. We wanted to reach more people with the car itself, so that as many real people as possible can touch and interact with the car along the way," she said.
The campaign will feature consumers and celebrities in addition to Seacrest. Running through October, it was masterminded by 42 Entertainment in partnership with Team Detroit, the WPP agency that's Ford's marketing agency of record.
Ford has a long-established social media presence. In 2009, the company's Fiesta Movement gave Fiestas to 100 young influencers, letting them drive the cars for six months, and, ideally, blog and post videos. In 2010, the company worked with the creators of The Amazing Race to produce Focus Rally: America, an interactive road rally that fans could watch on Hulu, follow on Facebook and impact the outcome of the game. A more recent campaign, Escape Route, let consumers compete in real-world challenges with the help of online followers.
Ford mixed media with the Ford Fusion App last December, ahead of the Detroit Auto Show. Consumers had to capture a Ford logo using the device's camera in order to unlock the app that let them drive a digital Fusion toward video clips featuring the brand story.
In March, a takeover of the Facebook logout page showed visitors a clickable still from a video for the new Ford Mustang.
Monty said that Ford wants to provide value to consumers by entertaining them, informing them or letting them be heard. He said, "People want to be heard. [They] want to be part of something bigger than themselves - even if it's being part of a marketing campaign."
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Susan Kuchinskas has covered interactive advertising since its invention. The former staff writer for Adweek, Business 2.0, and M-Business covers technology, business and culture from Berkeley, CA.
March 19, 2014