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Ford taps Microsoft for multichannel campaign featuring mobile

Ford Motor Co. tapped Microsoft Advertising to build awareness for the Ford Sync product via branded experiences for MSN, XBox Live and mobile.

The Ford Play It 4-Ward campaign combines original branded content with a multi-screen campaign across the PC, mobile?including banner ads on-deck with Verizon Wireless?and in-game ads now live in Activision's Rock Band, DJ Hero and Guitar Hero game series. The campaign debuted on MSN and can be downloaded as a mobile application, with the same original content available on the PC and on the mobile phone.

?Mobile is the only interactive channel that consumers engage with while they are in their cars or on the go, making it the obvious choice as the ?connective tissue? for this campaign,? said Charles Johnson, general manager of mobile advertising at Microsoft, Seattle. ?The campaign is an industry-first by having the same original content on the PC Web and mobile?across the mobile Web and native apps for Windows Phone, BlackBerry, iPhone and Android.

?This demonstrates how mobile advertising is becoming a must-have component of the media mix,? he said. ?This campaign breaks new ground because the mobile execution extends the multimedia experience to on-the-go consumers in an immersive, unified manner. 

?This integrated campaign allows Ford to connect audiences with the right advertising message at the right time wherever they are in their day, whether they are on the PC, mobile phone or through the gaming experience.?

Ford Motor Co. is an American multinational corporation based in Dearborn, MI. In addition to the Ford, Lincoln and Mercury brands, Ford also owns Volvo Cars of Sweden and has a small stake in Mazda of Japan and Aston Martin of England.

Ford Sync is a factory-installed, in-car communications and entertainment system developed by Ford and Microsoft. It is based on the Microsoft Auto platform. The system is currently offered on 12 different Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles in North America, starting with the 2008 model year.

Microsoft offers search and display advertising across Microsoft?s digital media brands and its partner sites such as Facebook.

?Microsoft, like no other company today, is connecting brands and consumers across multiple screens with truly unified, innovative experiences,? Mr. Johnson said.

Microsoft and Ford in Sync
Ford?s target demographic for the Play It 4-Ward campaign is technology-savvy adults in the U.S.

The Play It 4-Ward campaign includes 12 four-to-five-minute webisodes that feature a panel of entertainment and technology experts who debate industry topics and upcoming trends.

The discussions are moderated by Paul Hochman, the gear and technology editor for NBC's Today Show.

Panelists range from Facebook privacy officer Chris Kelly to Jane Buckingham, trend guru and founder of "The Intelligence Group." In each webisode they engage in a debate covering various topics, such as whether texting while driving should be banned.

Viewers can engage with the videos by voting for panelists with whom they agree, as well as commenting on the videos.

Play It 4-Ward will also include articles written by the panelists that dive deeper into topics of interest and highlight specific gadgets such the Flip Ultra HD, with opportunities to search online for the featured gadgets and technologies. 

Windows into mobile
Microsoft claims that the Ford Play It 4-Ward campaign represents its single largest mobile advertising campaign to date?with more than 20 percent of the overall ad budget going toward mobile.

Ford asked Microsoft to make sure that the mobile execution has the same look and feel as the PC experience, so Ford can engage with consumers on their terms and provide utility to consumers on the go.

The mobile display banners are device-targeted and run on MSN Mobile, the Verizon Wireless portal and in the MSNBC mobile application.

The mobile WAP experience allows mobile consumers to watch videos, read articles, download wallpapers and download the free Play It 4-Ward application.

The Play It 4-Ward application can be downloaded for free across four different mobile operating systems?Microsoft?s Windows Mobile, RIM?s BlackBerry, Google?s Android and Apple?s iPhone.

Mobile consumers will have access to repurposed video from the Play It 4-Ward panelists, articles and a daily holiday gadget gift guide. Within the application, Bing search will provide suggestions for recommended gifts.

Sync-equipped Ford cars will enable users to connect to their music libraries from their mobile phones by using Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP), a Bluetooth technology that streams audio from one device to another. 

Ford and Lincoln vehicles that come with the Sync-enabled technology will also be included in the upcoming XBox game title Alan Wake, which will be released in May 2010.

?Ford?s primary audience is technology-savvy adults in the U.S to drive continuous engagement and convenience of Play It 4-Ward app,? Mr. Johnson said. ?They are eager to reach both male and female adults ages 18 and over who are considered to be heavily engaged users across three screens?TV, online and mobile.?