Let’s face it, I am not what one would term “cool” or “dope” or “wicked”, in fact the only way I could use the word “hip” when describing me would be in the context of hip replacement surgery. So, safe to say, when Ford introduced its 2011 Ford Explorer I knew things were in a new age, and I was even more behind the times than I thought.
Before we get to the meat of it, the 2011 Explorer itself is a sign of change at many levels. Let’s take the engine choices: a decent-sized six-cylinder, and then comes the shocker, a turbo-four with direct fuel injection--that will cost more than the six! Less is more, so to speak. I guess the suburban families buying this thing won’t care what’s under the hood. Also, there will be no Sport Trac version, which I thought was a pretty neat variant. But even more shocking, you can tow less with this version than before. Americans like to tow heavy stuff like boats and guns and trailers and 70 cases of toilet paper from Costco. Odd.
Before I get into the unveiling of this car, let me say that nowadays advertising sure is different. There are so many channels to get information from, to read opinions, or to be sold something. My father clings to his ancient, tree-based, pulp and paper-sourced, ink-stained information transmission device, the newspaper. My nephews on the other hand wouldn’t know a printed good if you hit them with a rolled up version on the snout. If it’s not made with silicon chips and looks like an Apple product that requires batteries, forget it. It’s all electronic, it’s all the web. I am from that soon-to-be-ancient era that loves the web but also still likes TV, but with thousands of channels and TiVo that eliminates commercials at the click of a button, I can watch sports, or 30 Rock or Arrested Development reruns and never have to see an ad, so that is an advertising channel wasted.
So what does a modern, forward-thinking car do to attract an audience that understands the pull principle, the Tweet, and the always-on world wide web? They go after the 500 million users on Facebook by revealing the car there with a YouTube tie-in. Half a billion users, all with widely diverse likes and dislikes, is nothing to sneeze at. Especially after its experience with the Fiesta, which was a genuine social media success for Ford. They realized that using the web will allow the message to be spread more easily, more cheaply and in some ways, more honestly than other media.
After all, real fans of the vehicle (remember, this vehicle used to sell itself in the cheap oil days in the hundreds of thousands) will chime in on their laptops and smart phones. Sure, a big corporation is pushing this consumer good,but the Facebook fans will get the word out almost for free once there is enough momentum.
Check out the Facebook page and see how this makes magazines, TV and posters all but obsolete. Advertising has to be an on-the-fly affair with scripted and unscripted events, all updated at the click of button.