Editor's comment: Ford wants us to get engaged
A view from Gareth Jones

Editor's comment: Ford wants us to get engaged

Ever since Procter & Gamble, Colgate-Palmolive and Lever Brothers decided to fund the first soap operas back in the 50s, the rewards for brands bold enough to invest in content have been clear.

Of course, competition for consumer attention has increased over the past half-century - so much so that the road to success is now littered with the wreckage of brands that have tried and failed to engage their customers through content.

Nowhere is this more true than in the automotive sector. Last year Audi, arguably the highest-profile proponent of ad-funded programming, called time on its Sky Digital TV channel after five years. Rival Honda's online experiments have met with varying degrees of success, while Land Rover's 24-hour broadband TV channel has gone largely unnoticed.

However, this is not deterring Ford from making a foray into the realm of branded content. As we reveal in this issue, the car manufacturer hopes to make itself more 'exciting' to consumers by diverting spend from TV ads to online content.

Details are still sketchy, but whereas Ford's rivals have largely offered vehicle information, dealership profiles and new-product previews, it is taking a different tack and will focus purely on content that entertains. The idea is that by adding value to the online experience, consumers will volunteer to spend time with the brand without feeling as if they're being sold to.

As customers become less tolerant of 'Del Boy brands' constantly on the make, Ford's strategy is smart, and might just allow it to be heard above the noise. Much will depend on execution, but if Ford wants to curry favour with consumers rather than merely flog them motors, this is a solid start.

For more on branded content, explore the November issue of Revolution (now distributed exclusively with Marketing)