Shaken & Stirred - Influential Brand Profiling and Positioning

Facebook / Blue Hive success story : Pre-selling a car in a way Ford had never done before

Ford EcoSport Limited Edition

The challenge was to persuade 500 people to commit to buying a £15,000+ Ford EcoSport, exclusively through Facebook, months before its general launch and availability in dealerships. This ambitious strategy involved Ford pre-selling a car in a way it had never done before. And it paid off: all 500 cars were reserved within just five days.

How did we accomplish this? We set aside 500 EcoSports and badged them as Limited Edition models. We then identified an influential audience of tech-loving early-adopters on Facebook and aimed to pre-sell them these models, long before the vehicle’s general availability. 

Blue Hive is a multi-channel communications agency based in London. Established by, and made up of, experts from some of WPP’s best-known industry specialists (Ogilvy, Wunderman and Mindshare), the company works primarily on pan-European and global campaigns for founding client Ford of Europe.Using only Facebook media, we then served this audience with ads that were continuously optimised, ensuring we always reached those most likely to buy. By only serving ads when cars were available, we always reached these hot-prospects at the right time, avoiding disappointment.

Research proved our target audience to be hyper-connected and prolific mobile users. So the campaign microsite was designed to make best use of the swipe and pinch-zoom functionality of the latest smartphones and tablets. Combined with clear and simple design, we made configuring and reserving an EcoSport a swift, seamless, and rewarding process.

And because the design was so responsive, we created a consistently great experience for a demanding audience: delivering rich content, encouraging interaction, and making response easy, even for people with slow data connections.

Campaign Performance

This ingenious Facebook marketing strategy clearly reflected the innovative nature of the EcoSport, and helped establish Ford as a forward-thinking technology-driven brand. To put the scale of our challenge and the success of our solution in context: would you buy a £15,000+ car via Facebook from your mobile, tablet, or desktop?

Within 48 hours of the campaign going live on September 7, 2013, 60% of the vehicles were reserved: within five days, all 500 EcoSports had been allocated. These pre-sales equated to around £7.5 million revenue for Ford. And our objective was met for a quarter of the recommended budget, with no other media support.

The campaign’s success was greatly influenced by targeting app-loving, tech-smart people on Facebook: an audience more likely to be found interacting online than kicking tyres at a Ford showroom. By offering these ‘cool hunters’ a chance to own one of 500 Limited Edition EcoSport cars, we:

• delivered near-immediate sales
• generated over 300,000 visits to the website

In fact, the initial success was so swift that we continued to run the campaign. This allowed us to build in a contingency plan too: if people reserved a car but didn’t visit their Ford showroom to seal the deal, we could make that car available again.

By the end of the campaign on December 2, we’d also collected over 2,000 requests to ‘keep me informed’, creating a valuable pool of potential future buyers.

Steve Adams, Head of Automotive UK, Facebook commented:

“Ford’s products are known for their innovative features and design, so it was only right that it sought an innovative and unique way in which to sell the first 500 EcoSport models across Europe. “Generating this level of mass awareness, while cutting through to reach in-market shoppers, is a challenge for all automotive brands, so for Ford to be bold and produce such stellar results is very exciting.”

A few additional points on the marketing approach:

  • All content was created in close partnership with Blue Hive (the joint venture between Wunderman, Ogilvy and Mindshare) and Facebook.
  • The team identified the features of the car that would resonate most strongly with consumers and then chose formats and placements that would deliver the creative most effectively.
  • This meant that Ford could build a central bank of creative assets, which the local-market Mindshare teams were then able to use and rotate to deliver the best performance against their audiences.

Campaign Info

  • Client: Ford of Europe
  • Brand: Ford EcoSport
  • Company: Blue Hive, London
  • Target: UK · Europe, Middle East & Africa
  • Languages: Dutch, English (UK), French (France), German, Italian, Portuguese (Portugal), Spanish (Spain)
  • Category: Automotive
  • Objectives: Awareness, Intent, Sales, Product Launch, Direct Response

Creative and description provided by contributing agency or brand.


Executive Creative Director: Karin Onsager-Birch, Blue Hive

Creative Director: Richard Last, Blue Hive

Head of Owned Media Copy: Nigel Edginton-Vigus, Blue Hive

Head of Design: Dan Thorpe, Blue Hive

Project Manager: Hugo Faulkner, Blue Hive

Business Director: Angela Challands, Blue Hive

Account Director: Anne Fuell, Blue Hive

Account Director: Alistair.vonspeyr, Blue Hive

Digital Planning Director: Oliver Budworth, Blue Hive

Digital Strategist: Sarah Hand, Blue Hive

Account Manager: Vitor Forte, Blue Hive

Digital Business Director: Hugo King, Blue Hive

Media Manager: Akriti Agrawal, Blue Hive

Digital Media Director: Bill Pellett, Blue Hive

Media Director: Jacque Ferrari, Blue Hive

Director of Digital Innovation: Jenny Kimmerich, Blue Hive

Tags: AutomotiveEurope, Middle East & AfricaDutchEnglish (UK)French (France)GermanItalianPortuguese (Portugal),Spanish (Spain)Ads and Sponsored StoriesPagesAwarenessIntentSalesProduct LaunchDirect Response