When Ford aimed to relaunch the redesigned Fusion, the head of Ford Communications entrusted me with the task of devising a strategy to generate maximum online conversations and mentions by the global press ahead of the vehicle’s official unveiling at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
FORD FUSION 3D & Augmented Reality App
Acknowledging the Challenge and Concept Development:
Acknowledging the challenge of captivating automotive journalists, a group accustomed to creative reveals and extravagant events, we embarked on a journey to create an unprecedented experience. Collaborating with an Oscar® winning animation studio, the development of the pitch concept aimed to offer an exclusive behind-the-scenes encounter. This involved sharing captivating stories that would serve as content-starters for articles and prompt engagement with Ford. Using Augmented Reality, journalists were required to “unlock” the app by using Augmented Reality to “scan” the Ford logo. This logo could be on paper, screen, or on an actual Ford vehicle.
The app then allowed journalists to “drive” the vehicle in a dynamic 3D environment, exploring a new track each day. This interactive journey would unlock a piece of video content daily for the 30 days leading up to the Auto Show reveal. At midnight on the final day, the app would unveil the vehicle, providing journalists the opportunity to explore every track in the app, including a new launch track. Users were also encouraged to share screenshots of the app on their social channels.
Concept Approval and Implementation:
With the concept approved, the subsequent steps were meticulously executed:
- Engaged with the agency’s brand leadership to comprehend the visual design direction of the marketing campaign.
- Met with the actual Ford vehicle development team, including the lead designer and engineers, to grasp the unique features and rationale behind the vehicle’s design and target audience.
- Developed a comprehensive storyboard for the entire app, outlining the UI evolution, content calendar, and feature release schedule.
- Collaborated with Ford’s social media team and PR to synchronize their content calendar with the feature release schedule, ensuring a cohesive narrative.
- Oversaw the animation studio’s development process and collaborated with studio heads on concept and content.
- Led the video production to create 30 exclusive video clips embedded in the app.
- Presented the final app at an exclusive global press event, with Bill Ford personally demonstrating the app to the press.
The program exceeded expectations, amassing over 9,000 downloads in 30 days without the benefit of paid media support. It garnered coverage in 185 blog posts, reaching a total audience of 12.5 million Unique Monthly Visitors (UMVs). Notably, it secured coverage in key online publications, including the Wall Street Journal blog. According to Nielsen Buzz Metrics, the Ford Fusion outperformed the nearest competitor by 2X, boasting 9,640 mentions compared to 4,763 mentions (see chart below). The app’s innovative approach successfully captivated the automotive press and set a new standard for pre-reveal engagement in the industry.