Ford’s viral spokesman steals the show, as consumers focus on him rather than Ford itself

Ford’s viral spokesman steals the show, as consumers focus on him rather than Ford itself

Ford’s recent campaign around the 2012 Focus shows that viral videos tend to engage consumers around the content itself, rather than the related brand or product. In this case, the “hilarious” puppet spokesman is the focus for consumers, with few linking the content back to Ford or the 2012 Focus.

Ford recently unveiled their newly appointed brand ambassador, an orange puppet named Doug. The move represents another step in the increasingly bizarre set of viral videos created by big brands over the last few months. Videos uploaded via the focusdoug YouTube channel show Doug as a less than perfect and shamelessly misogynistic brand ambassador, who actively mocks the new 2012 Focus. The campaign is accompanied by its own Facebook page and Twitter handle, which aim to build Doug’s profile across the social media space. Ford hope the amusing video series will allow them to showcase the “wildly different” 2012 Focus and reach consumers who know the Focus “only as an econo-box”.
 
WaveMetrix analysis reveals the apparent trade-off between creating engaging content and explicitly pushing products at consumers. Ford has successfully engaged consumers around the “hilarious” viral videos. However, in making the video content engaging, Ford inevitably has to tone down the presence of the Ford brand or the Focus itself. Because of this, the vast majority of consumers concentrate on the videos themselves, rather than the 2012 Focus or the wider Ford brand. Of course, there is still subtle product placement within the Ford videos and the virals succeed in positioning Ford as more edgy and entertaining. However, the example shows that it’s difficult to build engagement with specific products via viral techniques, because consumers are more likely to engage directly with the content itself.
 
Vast majority of consumers focus on the viral marketing itself, rather than Ford or the Focus:
 
Ford’s viral spokesman steals the show, but consumers focus on him rather than Ford itself
 
  • Consumers focus very positively on Ford marketing: Viewers readily say that Doug is an “amazing” character who makes them “laugh out loud”. Although a few greet the videos sceptically and describe them as “commercial”, most embrace the new character and react positively
  • However, very few go on to discuss Ford or the 2012 Focus: Only a handful of consumers comment on the “respected” Ford brand, with a few also saying the campaign doesn’t make them want to buy a Focus
Only around a quarter of consumers go on to mention Ford:
 
Ford’s viral spokesman steals the show, but consumers focus on him rather than Ford itself
  • The majority of discussion doesn’t mention Ford in any capacity: Consumers tend to focus on Doug’s character and much of marketing discussion is not explicitly linked back to Ford itself

 

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