Ford is on a mission to get people excited about the upcoming Ford Fiesta compact, due to arrive on American soil next year as a 2011 model. Their mission is simple: Get a bunch of Fiestas into the hands of web-savvy drivers, then send them out on their own "missions" in what Ford is officially calling the "Fiesta Movement."
"It's all part of a plan to build excitement and spread the word about the arrival of the new Ford Fiesta to the next generation of customers," said Sam De La Garza, Ford's small car marketing manager in a statement about the program.
Beginning this spring, Ford will select 100 people, or "agents" as Ford calls them, to receive a European-spec Fiesta updated to U.S. standards. The agents will drive the cars for a six-month period, with Ford sending them on monthly missions to specific locations. In return, the agents will log regular reports about the Fiesta through various social networking sites such as Facebook, FlickR and YouTube. Ford will also pick up the tab on insurance and fuel for the duration of the program.
"Socially vibrant campaigns are so important because of their power in delivering authentic and genuine messages across a broad spectrum of media, which only will help us deliver a more positive consumer experience when the car launches in the U.S. next year," said De La Garza.
Ford is actively pursuing what they call the Millennial Generation -- also known as Generation Y -- as the core market for the new Fiesta. Generally considered to be born between 1976 and 2000, market research indicates this demographic will consist of approximately 70 million licensed drivers when the Fiesta officially goes on sale in the U.S. According to Ford, this is the largest segment of any generation, constituting 28 percent of the car-buying public with many of them having yet to establish any specific brand loyalty.
"The Millennials are an emerging market force, with 11,000 reaching driving age every day," said De La Garza. "It's the most important demographic trend since the Baby Boomers, and it represents one of the greatest opportunities for Ford."
Ford may have done their homework on this campaign. Though the Fiesta has been absent from North America since the 1970s, the car has remained in production in Europe where it's been a strong seller for Ford. The current-generation Fiesta was launched last August in the European market with great success, racking up nearly 90,000 sales since its release. It's received nearly universal praise from auto publications and critics worldwide with regards to styling, refinement and performance. As an entry-level car, the Fiesta will notch in below the Ford Focus in the company's line up when it reaches U.S. shores, and be available in either sedan or hatchback format.
Ford invites digitally-inclined drivers to apply for the Fiesta Movement online at www.fiestamovement.com. Applicants must submit a two to five minute video, showing off their social networking skills and explaining why they should be chosen as an "agent." Ford says 1500 people have already entered the contest, with thousands more expected to sign on in the coming days. All entries must be received by March 13, 2009.
Select photos by Jeffrey N. Ross.