Mobile Marketer has re-launched! Click here to learn more!

Ford accelerates engagement via mobile

Ford is upping its mobile game with a new multichannel program that aims to connect with race car fans through several initiatives. 

Team Detroit ? Ford?s agency of record ? is using mobile with the Ford Racing group to help personalize content for car racing fans. SMS, mobile Web, email and augmented reality are all being used in the campaign.

?We conducted research around how race fans use their mobile devices and tablets, both at race events as well as at-home watching race coverage and it was no surprise that race fans are some of the most passionate fans in sports,? said Aaron Smith, vice president of mobile and tablet strategy at Team Detroit, Dearborn, MI.

?Tapping into their passion for an at-race experience as well as their affiliation with the drivers, we wanted to deliver something that makes fans feel like a part of the event,? he said.

?The Ford Racing mobile program will evolve as we kick off 2013 with more active mobile efforts. In 2013 we will be looking for more event activation with additional mobile experiences as well as bridging more dynamic race event coverage to test content that fans want on their second and third screen when watching the race on TV. Television is still the dominate device that fans watch races and we want to enhance that for race fans.?

In the driver?s seat
Ford has rolled out an augmented reality app that lets users take photographs next to their favorite racing stars.

In order to unlock content, users must point their mobile devices at a Ford logo. Once the logo is recognized, users can pick from a lineup of professional drivers and line up their device?s built-in camera to fit into the frame.

Pictures can then be shared via Facebook, Twitter or email or saved to a mobile device?s photo roll.

The app is available for free download on iPhone and Android devices.

Ford Racing's mobile site

Customized messages
SMS and mobile Web also plays a role in marketing efforts.

Compared to the app initiatives, the SMS marketing is more aimed at getting a mass audience of users to connect with the brand at racing events.

Users can text in the keyword FORD to the short code 95323 to receive a personalized autograph from professional race car driver Trevor Bayne.

After users send in the keyword, they are sent back a message that prompts them to enter their email addresses. A link sent via email and SMS then lets users view a customized mobile site with the autograph.

Additionally, Ford?s main digital hub ? ? has been mobilized to help users connect with content while at the track.

The site pulls in news, photos, videos, driver statistics and a schedule of events.

?As marketers and brands test more and more mobile functionality to connect with brands, I think there will be two key drivers that launch mobile marketing in sports,? Mr. Smith said.

?The first is activation at events because stadiums and sports leagues are increasing the cell connection strengths they support at stadiums,? he said.

?The second is multi-screening at home. Brands are starting to execute the second and third screen in a more effective manner and as devices become more intrusive than ever, finding that right mix of television content with some alternative content on mobile or tablet is going to be key.?

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Marketer, New York