Chicago Auto Show: Jim Farley, the 2011 Ford Explorer, and Social Media

Press impressed: Farley answers traditional media's questions

Press impressed: Farley answers traditional media's questions

Ford's group vice president Jim Farley delivered the 2011 Chicago Auto Show's keynote media address.  He says the annual Chicago event is the "largest consumer auto show."  What sets apart Chicago's pavilion of motoring plenty: its voluminous space and its emphasis on putting people in cars.

Farley claims Ford's Chicago display is inspired by the Chicago Field Museum's interactive exhibits.  He says, "Ford isn't a car company, it's a technology company."   But his biggest point in a city known for thinking big is a marketing change represented by a Chicago-built 2011 Ford Explorer.  He says Ford focused on finding Facebook friends.

It asks fine families to dream about "Go. Do." road adventures and share them with Ford.  The winning entry gets an Explorer adventure that in turn will be an hour-long reality TV feature.  By engaging with opinion leaders and letting them do most of the talking, Ford believes it can change the nature of public trust in an American corporation.  Building trust is important; big companies such as Enron undermined confidence in corporate communications.

Another aspect of marketing automobiles that's changing is social media.  Farley argues that Ford will increase its use of internet-based ads.  Its experience with the Fiesta launch proved one could reduce marketing costs yet increase the number and quality of visits to Ford-related promotions.

He also foresees a change in the dealer experience.  It, according to Farley, will resemble the Apple Store.  One can stop in anytime, to learn about one's car, download apps, master MyFord Touch and link one's phone to Ford's SYNC.  Another dealer model that he finds appealing:  Best Buy's Geek Squad.

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