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Ford, Pandora, Musicians In New Marketing Campaign

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Ford, Internet radio leader Pandora and artists Jewel and John Legend are matching up to launch an integrated digital marketing campaign that enhances the Pandora user experience and benefits charities

Ford and Pandora joined up at the Interactive Advertising Bureau Mixx Conference and Expo in New York to share the details of a new fourth-quarter 2010 digital advertising campaign that allows Pandora visitors to use the social share feature to share a “mixtape” from playlists compiled by either Jewel or John Legend. When a song is shared, Ford and Pandora will make a donation to the artist’s charity of choice.

This latest Ford campaign on Pandora is part of a larger trend at Ford to shift its digital marketing strategy away from using primarily company-generated advertising that interrupts — the banner ad — to marketing that embraces and engages digital content creators to help tell the Ford story.

It also builds on the company’s multipronged relationship with Pandora, which has more than 60 million registered users. Earlier this year, Ford announced Pandora would be more seamlessly integrated into the Ford Sync experience through AppLink, a software program that allows owners to access and control selected smartphone apps, such as Pandora, through Sync voice commands.

“We’ve found the most valuable digital marketing doesn’t interrupt the user experience but instead complements it,” said Matt VanDyke, director of U.S. marketing communications for Ford Motor and a speaker at the IAB conference. “By partnering with content creators, we’re able to support niche programs that audiences truly enjoy. That helps Ford spend its marketing dollars more wisely, while creating user-advocates, rather than just bombarding potential customers with banner ads and 30-second spots.”

Featuring Jewel and John Legend, the new Ford campaign on Pandora seamlessly incorporates original video content and radio station mix options that let listeners broaden their music library while benefiting worthwhile causes in the process. Jewel’s song sharing will benefit the National Breast Cancer Foundation, while Legend listeners help out the Show Me Campaign, a nonprofit organization promoting equal access to quality education.

Along with Pandora, Ford is working with other content creators from emerging digital broadcasters such as This Week in Tech podcasts, Podtrac, and Revision3 internet television to seamlessly weave in Ford products and services into their viewers’ worlds. With Revision3, for example, Ford gave the hosts of its tech culture show, Diggnation, a 2011 Ford Fiesta equipped with Ford Sync and asked them to enjoy the in-car connectivity system with their audience — no script and freeform.

So far, the results have been encouraging. In an ad-effectiveness study performed after podcasts like the one featured on This Week in Tech and Diggnation, 21 percent of listeners reported being much more likely to purchase a Ford vehicle with Sync after the broadcast. Unaided recall of Sync tripled, while aided recall doubled.

Perhaps most telling, however, is that one-third of listeners claimed the Sync advertising actually increased their enjoyment of the online shows overall.

“It’s encouraging, particularly in this day of commercial-skipping DVRs, to have consumers claim advertising actually added value to their content,” said VanDyke. “The strength of Ford technologies such as SYNC gives us powerful leverage. Our goal is to continue to develop smart advertising solutions around our products that reach customers and keep them engaged and entertained more than ever before.”

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