Ford Fiesta‘s smart social media campaign backfires in the Middle East

Bloggers power is one of today’s world facts; it is a major social media tool that has a very high effect in influencing people and setting trends around the globe. Ford Automobile was smart enough to realize this; they came up with a brilliant marketing campaign that is unprecedented in the automobile segment. The campaign was based on recruiting 100 bloggers (trend-setters) – they call them Agents -. Those Agents were given Ford Fiesta cars to test drive and complete different missions for 6 months. They were asked to report and share their experience online through their blogs, tweets, photos and videos in order to show people what Ford Fiesta is all about before its launch in 2010 in the U.S.

Ford Fiestas social media campaign fails!

Ford Fiesta's social media campaign fails!

The campaign generated a good amount of positive buzz in the U.S with those Agents roaming the country and sharing their experiences. Sebastian for instance – one of the agents – blogged his wonderful experience of meeting people in his road trip. He posted pictures and videos on his blog and advertised it through his twitter account with tweets like:

@YogaArmy: @WongKendall @jestdempsey @MachinePassion @spotonpr @justy84wvu Check out our Ford Fiesta Adventures on our blog

Others also documented the movement’s effect on twitter:

@phashion_tv: The Ford Fiesta Movement is having an Awesome Effect!! Ford Stock is UP !! @yogaarmy @phashion_tv #fiestamovement”

One would think that with such amazing campaign there is little room for messing things up. Unfortunately, that is exactly what happened when Ford failed in one of their most important regions of the world which according to Business 24/7 accounts for half of their global exports – the Middle East -.

It only took one irresponsible comment from Ford’s Middle East officials to trigger a wave of anger among the Middle Eastern blogsphere and turn a very successful social media campaign into a roar of attacks against Ford. The acknowledgement of the power of bloggers that helped their success in the U.S. was replaced with complete disregard of Middle Eastern bloggers. Ford’s officials claimed that they cannot replicate the campaign in the region which according to them still lags behind other cyber marketing tools. They stated that they have invited bloggers to offer their inputs but unfortunately that generated no response.

Suddenly the talk about the Fiesta car turned into a call out of questions between bloggers in the region asking each other if Ford has ever contacted any blogger in regard to this campaign. A simple search on twitter can give us a good idea:

@alexandermcnabb: Ford called out on UAE Community Blog. DID they talk to ONE blogger before slagging off the Middle East’s bloggers?

@shansenta: Ford – Middle East Bloggers – Did they Contact You To Assist With Their Campaign?

@MaiAbaza: @TheArabObserver I’m not sure @FordFiesta contacted any bloggers in the region at all. It’s so easy to say ‘there aren’t any’, isn’t it?”

Social Media is a sword of two edges. One should be really careful in using those powerful tools. Ford got it right at the beginning then messed things up. Will they act fast enough to reach out to Middle Eastern bloggers and correct their mistake? Or is it too late? Will we remember this campaign as a brilliant success or a complete disaster? Let us wait and see.

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