It was 2009 and the world had not fully recovered from the 2008 financial crisis. People were afraid of losing their jobs, no new jobs were created and the sentiment in every industry was dull. It was particularly a difficult year for automakers.
Chrysler, General Motors and Ford’s request for financial aid had been turned down. Production plants were shut down, workers were shown the door and iconic brands were being phased out. And here was Ford, trying to do the unthinkable. Ford wanted to launch a model in the not-so popular sub-compact car category, to appeal to a new bread of consumers – “millennial” and to sell new cars when the forecasts for new cars were low.
Ford launched an audacious campaign called the “Ford Fiesta Movement”. It was audacious because the brand manager was willing to give up control over the brand. Remember this was 2009. Even today, there are brands that are afraid of digital channels.
Ford let the brand “Fiesta” to be defined by the end users. From a pool of 4100 applicants, Ford shortlisted 100 agents or seeds as they are known in Word-of-Mouth marketing, gave them a new Fiesta to use for free for 6 months and asked the agents to share their experiences online. Agents were encouraged to share their honest feedback even unfavorable ones.
Brand managers at Ford knew that authentic, unedited reviews of everyday users were more influential than showing the brand only in good light. The FFM campaign was a huge success.
The agents uploaded more than 10,000 YouTube videos, 20,0000 photographs on Flickr and 270000 blogs were written about FFM campaign. The campaign resulted in 35,000 test drives, 162,000 footfalls at launch events and 50,000 sales leads — 97% of them had never owned a Ford card prior to Fiesta launch.
Mi India is attempting to recreate the Ford Fiesta magic with the “Redmi Note 3 Challenge”. Mi India will select 100 Mi Explorers, give them the yet to be launched Redmi Note 3 and ask them to share their experiences online.
The objectives of this campaign are clear:
- Create Awareness: Mi India will be able to create awareness and buzz around the Redmi Note 3 launch. The User Generated Content and its distribution on social media platforms will help Mi India garner more eyeballs for the launch.
- Differentiate Redmi Note 3: The campaign will help Mi India to differentiate the Redmi Note 3 from its competitors in the 10K-15K INR price segment. This price segment is one of the most crowded segment, which has seen newer models entering every 3 months and the most popular segment in India.
- Make the community stronger: Mi India has already built a strong online community. This campaign would further strengthen the community.
- Informed Consumer: This campaign, given the duration and medium, will enable Mi India to inform and show the people about the different product features. The designing of task/missions has also been crowd sourced by Mi India. Some of the sample missions are given below.
- Content Generation: Users will be asked to generate content in the form of blog posts, videos, photos once the campaign starts. These User Generated Content will be used by Mi India for its promotional activities.
— Ankit Singh (@ankitprince13) January 22, 2016
As on 27th January 2016, Mi India announced on its Facebook page that the campaign has so far received more than 32106 Explorer applicants and 28075 missions have designed. The Redmi Note 3 explorer campaign is set up for a brilliant launch. We will continue to follow how the campaign unfolds.
It comes as no surprise that Xiaomi is the first mobile brand to get inspired by the Ford Fiesta Movement campaign. From its inception, Xiaomi has focused on building a community and this community-focused approach has helped Xiaomi to differentiate itself from the other Chinese manufacturers. Xiaomi has used digital channels very effectively.
For instance, when the market was flooded with fake products that looked like Xiaomi, the company responded by creating a YouTube video that helped the consumers differentiate the original Xiaomi product from the fake ones.
What could have been better
Micro Site: Mi India could have created a separate Micro site for the campaign. The microsite could be used as a platform to showcase content from all social media channels.
A new product line: Why Redmi is the first question that came to my mind. Mi India could have used this community-oriented campaign to fork out a new brand that is completely owned by the people. I say this because the Redmi brand of phones is already well known.
A new brand, which is completely designed by the community right from choosing the name of the brand to choosing the components that go into the manufacturing of the phone, would have given a sense of complete ownership.
From a concept standpoint, Xioami managed to excel at the campaign. However, added innovation the campaign could have surpassed Ford’s success.