Lesson One about women: They like syrupy, sentimental content on Valentine’s Day—images of flowers, chocolates and walks on the beach.
Lesson Two: Everybody knows guys drive better than women.
OK, OK! You’re right! False on both counts, says Ford Motor Co. (And I agree!) To dispel such stereotypes, the automaker pranked several unsuspecting dudes by arranging blind dates with a female stunt driver for a Valentine’s Day video.
She then took each of them for a high-speed spin in a Mustang as they clung to their seat and a hidden camera recorded their reactions.
The video, with 13.6 million views on YouTube, is just one example of creative content the carmaker is sending down the assembly line. Ford opens its books on its strategy in the Ragan Training video “How to integrate content marketing in the real world-best practices and pitfalls to avoid.”
Ford dishes out lessons in a session on Ragan Training. Here are three takeaways:
1. ‘Speed Dating’: Surprise your audience.
Many people harbor the misconception that women can’t drive as well as men—and that women only want sugary sweet content on Valentine’s Day, Kozleski says. The reality, as Ford proved, is that women like to be entertained and empowered.
That’s why Ford took its unusual angle on holiday-themed content, confident that the video would take off organically.
“What made it so work so well is that it was unexpected—who would expect a female driving like that?” says Angie Kozleski, Ford’s global marketing and digital communications manager. “It was funny. And it was linked into something that everybody can relate to: Valentine’s Day.”
Best of all, from a company perspective: The vehicle was integrated into the video. By taking a different approach, the company earned pickup from Huffington Post, USA Today and Time magazine and many other venues.
One guy said at the end that it was his best date ever. The guy who squealed the whole way? Well, at least he became Internet-famous.
2. ‘Everyday Heroes’: It’s not always about you.
Ford produces a series of stories called “Everyday Heroes,” which feature Ford owners who are doing great things for their communities. One video features Izzy Paskowitz of a group called Surfers Healing, who teaches autistic children to surf. He explains that water is a therapeutic for these youngsters and that surfing builds their self-confidence.
Apart from identifying him as a Ford owner, the video has nothing to say about the automaker. Yet the warm sentiment the video engenders says something about the company and its values.
“It’s really all about creating the right kind of content that helps tell your story and helps move the brand forward,” Kozleski says.
3. ‘National Pancake Day’: Find partners to reach new audiences.
National Pancake Day? Here at Ragan, it’s a day when we fry flapjacks, dance mazurkas and fire guns in the air. But what does have to do with automobiles?
Yet Ford drew up a joint marketing campaign with IHOP, complete with video. This allowed the carmaker to tap into a griddlecake-gobbling subculture that is relevant to the company’s ongoing conversation, thereby broadening its reach.
Sound out to your peers in social media from other companies and see if they’d be willing to team up for a campaign, as Ford and IHOP did for the hotcake holiday.
The speeded-up video shows a set of hands pouring batter into a sizzling skillet to create car-shaped pancakes that your 3-year-old—or car-buff grandpa—would find pretty cool. The chef also whips up a slapjack with Ford’s corporate logo.
Says Kozleski: “We’re always looking at ways we can reach audiences beyond just our Ford audiences.”
Editor’s note: This story is taken from Ragan Communications’ distance-learning portal Ragan Training. The site contains hundreds of hours of case studies, video presentations and interactive courses.