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Ford, the only one of the big three U.S. car makers that didn’t file for bankruptcy during the global financial crisis, is leading the pack with its marketing strategy focused on social media. In a move away from traditional and TV marketing, Ford North America’s marketing boss Jim Farley believes he can get more out of Social Media sites and the likes of Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

In an interview with Automotive News, Farley said modern consumers are spending around the same time on the internet or on their smart phones as they are sitting on the couch watching TV, so he is pushing more of his company’s advertising revenue online.

Although not abandoning traditional media completely, Farley, 48, believes the best way to connect to younger people and conquer consumer skepticism is to “break into their world”. Being with them whilst they are engaging online.

Critics will find it hard to argue that his strategy isn’t working, given Ford’s U.S. sales have increased 19 percent year-to-date compared with about 10% industry wide.

Ford currently spends over 25 percent of its advertising budget online, about twice the average of other brands.

The company recently used social media to help launch the new Fiesta which according to Farley  helped boost awareness of the new model above the likes of Honda Jazz and Toyota Yaris. Ford reportedly spent only 1/10th of its budget launching the Fiesta thanks to cheaper online marketing alternatives.

The Blue Oval is currently running a competition to attract the best 100 bloggers, Facebook fans and Social media lovers to drive the 2012 Ford Focus in Europe early next year.

On the other side of the fence, General Motors has stuck to its guns and has gone back to pushing big advertising dollars into traditional media (such as planned Superbowl advertisements which cost around $3 million for 30 seconds).