Ford is one of the latest established corporations to take to social media with the edginess and creativity it allows. Their Doug (the orange puppet) YouTube series incorporates elements of extraordinary everyday situations, and the ridiculous that are perfect for the social media gateway.
Why it Works
The videos feature extraordinary, but somewhat plausible, everyday situations and heroics. In the first several videos, Doug (the orange puppet) is seen taking part in amazing heroic feats, including thwarting an armed robber and performing the Heimlich on a choking woman. These set the tone for the series in the ridiculous, as all of these things are being done by a hand puppet. The former video is especially interesting as it’s shot from the view of the store’s security camera, almost giving the scene a sense of realism.
Ford’s odd couple of John and Doug provide a great analogy for the struggle established companies are facing with social media. Doug is constantly mucking around and being too socially forward, while John is always holding him back to keep his image intact. Ford is poking fun at itself, and corporate American, for being sticklers when it comes to their behaviour. Doug personifies the different, fun image that Ford is trying to encompass in the 2012 Focus.
Ford utilizes cross-channel promotion. The first few videos were publicized via tweets of Scott Monty, Ford’s head of social media, whose following of 52,000+ is a great jumping-off point. Since the videos have been released Ford has also created Twitter accounts for John and Doug, and a Facebook Page for Doug, who have been very busy conversing with followers in perfect character. This creates a very personal and interactive feeling between the customer and the commercials, as the customer gets to speak directly with characters they know to be figurative. This follows the same strategy Old Spice utilized with its recent Old Spice Guy campaign.
It’s ridiculous and unexpected. Ford is delving into content that would never fly with the Middle American audiences of TV and radio. There is forward sexual innuendo and even a slight drug reference! Internet users log on with the expectation of viewing content that will surprise them. Ford has chosen the perfect way to be different and get publicity. For example, even if this campaign is talked about on Good Morning America, they will only show the content appropriate for their audience, which is all Ford would want them to see.
Bottom Line for Local Business
Retailers don’t need massive budgets to get the same effect as this video series. They can create the same atmosphere and image for their business with a smartphone video of employees taking part in their favourite at-work pastime. If pushed through social media, this content can break some of the restrictions of traditional media and be cheeky. Having a stickler like John though is a good way to strike a balance if you’re unsure how offensive the content is. You can have a protagonist say almost anything as long as the antagonist is close-by to assure the audience that what he/she is doing is wrong.
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