Wow, that title really took a dive towards the end there, didn?t it?
In an effort to build the US market?s interest in small cars ? a segment strong in Europe and much of the world, but not so big in the US ? Ford has invited 100 young and 'interweb-savvy' buyers to borrow the all-new 2009 Ford Fiesta for six months.
In return, those netizens will blog and tweet about their experiences with the snappy little hatch. Sounds like a good opportunity for the marketing machine to censor its way to success, right? Well, that?s not what the Blue Oval Camp has in mind.
In an interview with Wired.com, Ford?s social media chief Scott Monty described the project as an effort by Ford to inspire and excite.
"While were trying to build excitement and awareness for the vehicle with the Fiesta Movement campaign, there's something bigger happening here. We're also going to be building broader awareness of Ford.
"It shows that Ford cares what customers think," he said.
Describing the project?s target demographic as ?millennials? ? those born between 1979 and 1996 ? Deep Focus marketing group CEO Ian Shafer pointed to a Microsoft survey that showed 77 percent of ?millennials? make daily visits to sites like YouTube and Facebook, while 28 percent have a personal blog.
In the US, about 70 million members of the driving public in 2010 will be ?millenials?.
Monty vows that Ford is taking a hands-off approach to the second part of the project ? the part where its participants tweet and blog on their thoughts about the Fiesta in both text and video form. The latter coming via sites like YouTube.
"We've told them to be completely honest - that's the only way it's going to work," Monty told Wired.com. "We won't tell them what to say, nor will we censor or edit any of their content."
It?s a bold move by Ford, but more, it?s a move no sane manufacturer would make without being supremely confident of the car?s quality ? and having had some prior experience of the little hatch, it does.