Feeling the difference, literally!

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By Shibani Gharat, afaqs!, Mumbai, September 09, 2011
Section: News Category: Advertising Share7Ford India has launched a campaign that features the experiences of consumers who were given a chance to exchange their competitive-make vehicle with one of the Ford cars.
The new campaign launched by Ford India makes you feel that Ford India has adopted Ford brand's global promise and the unified stand of 'Feel the Difference', totally. An automotive user in India truly gets to feel the difference, courtesy Ford. It is the difference between his own car and a Ford car in the same category that the vehicle user gets to experience through Ford India's unique consumer engagement initiative, Swap Your Drive .

Ford's models in India include the Endeavour, Fiesta Classic, and the Figo. Hence, a consumer of a rival manufacturer's brand gets a chance to drive any one of these vehicles in the same vehicle category as the vehicle he possesses. His opinion about the vehicle is used in the new Ford campaign.

Consumer verdict is the core of the campaign

On using consumer insights for the campaign, Nigel E Wark, executive director, sales and marketing, Ford India, tells afaqs!, "Consumers bring across a better response and clearer communication. They also help us understand better who our target is and what it wants."

Anurag Mehrotra, vice-president, marketing, Ford India, believes that the single largest source of information before buying a vehicle is word-of-mouth. "Recommendation from a person similar to you brings in a greater sense of authenticity and believability."

Ford India hired the services of Synovate, a global market research company, to shortlist candidates for the 'Swap Your Drive' initiative. The criteria for selection of a candidate was that the person should have had purchased a competitor car in the last one-two years, and was willing to be interviewed by a research firm. Nine candidates from three cities -- Delhi, Mumbai and Ludhiana -- got a chance to swap their cars. Candidates' cars were swapped with Endeavour, Fiesta Classic, and the Figo. Some of the cars swapped include Maruti Suzuki's Swift and Desire, Hyundai's i10, Tata Motors' Manza and Toyota's Fortuner.

Engaging the consumer

This is not the first time that Ford has taken consumer testimonials and made a campaign out of it. It all started with the Fiesta campaign, this year. 'The Fiesta Experience', featuring four young individuals from different walks of life, was launched recently. Their real experiences and opinion about driving the all-new Fiesta across a 10-day, 1,310 km drive from Delhi to Diu, was captured on camera and converted into a campaign.

Prior to this, Ford India had launched 'Ford Figo Bharat Yatra'. As part of this activation drive, Figo travelled through 1,000 towns of India, in 100 days.

Global Team Ford

A dedicated consortium of three independent agencies namely JWT, Mindshare and Wunderman, have worked on the 'Swap Your Drive' campaign. Ford India shifted headquarters from Chennai to the National Capital Region and opened office in Gurgaon. Simultaneously, with this relocation came another significant change: to partner Ford India in its new agenda, WPP established Global Team Ford, a consortium of the three above-mentioned agencies.

Three individual client team leaders oversee the operation: Vani Aiyer from JWT, Sushanto Biswas from Mindshare, and Harish Iyer from Wunderman.

Additionally, the integrated strategic function is led by Mythili Chandrasekar, and the integrated creative expression by Vijay Simha. The overall WPP team is led by Hari Krishnan, head, Global Team Ford, with the individual team and discipline leaders reporting to him. The India chapter of WPP's Team Ford is the newest, following Team Detroit at Dearborn, USA, the Blue Hive in Europe and in China.

On the new campaign, Krishnan tells afaqs!, "Consumers will experience and then relate the experience to others. We have documented their experiences as content for our campaigns."

Comparing with competitors

The campaign mentions the names of the rival brands in individual advertisements. On citing competitor vehicle brands in the campaign, Wark says, "Our advertisements carry a message in a positive way. It captures positives about our vehicles and speaks nothing negative about the competitor's vehicles.

To this, Mehrotra adds, "Each brand has its own strengths and position in the market. Well, this campaign will ruffle a few feathers in the market, but we do not aim to mar some other brand's image."

The chapter IV of the ASCI Code of Self-Regulation in advertising ensures that advertisements observe fairness in competition. As per the code, advertisements containing comparisons with other manufacturers or suppliers or with other products including those where a competitor is named are permissible in the interests of vigorous competition and public enlightenment provided certain conditions are met.

It is not a rivalry thing, says Krishnan. "The premise of the whole campaign is that the consumer drives the product and on his own, finds out how superior the product is. We do not wish to get into any 'Cola War' type rivalry. We wish to use consumer experience to aid conversion." He also says that the communication is aimed at targeting those sitting on the fence when it comes to choosing a car.

The media mix of the Ford's new campaign would be print, television, digital and social media.
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