But now it seems like Ford is trying to change this. To go viral here, they are using a localized version of last Septembers "pigeon - clip" from the British Evil Twin campaign.
First success: yesterday, the German news magazine DER SPIEGEL reported about some pigeon lovers who are appalled by the spot and the disrespect it shows towards poor, innocent pigeons...
Although not really new (Ford used this "scandal tactic" in the UK, too), it is still a nice PR job - but only for starters ! So what's next ??
Well, not much, I am afraid. Take a look at the website for the clip - dull, boring, generic - and compare it to the site Ford has build in Britain. Can such a half-hearted approach work ? I hardly doubt it !
Just releasing a nice clip onto the internet isn't enough to make a viral marketing campaign successful. It rather needs an elaborate concept for things like seeding the viral agent or tracking the actual results. To be really successful the clip should lead the viewer to a well designed microsite, which is able to turn a curious random visitor into a profitable customer. A standard, CMS-driven corporate site won't do the trick !
I am also not sure if it is possible to "recycle" old viral agents from other markets in the way Ford is trying to do here. Unlike TV spots, viral clips cannot be contained to a certain country or region. Instead they are being send around the world at internet speed if they are successful. People now will probably yawn at the "new" German clip, because many already saw the English version a few months ago. If this is the case, they won't pass it around, which could mean the end of the viral phase before it really started !!
So, nice first try, Ford Germany... but let's hope for a bit more courage and fresh ideas next time...
Update: Okay, the online part still looks pathetic, but on the PR side this thing becomes more and more a best practice. Ford was even able to get its "pigeon scandal" into the main German TV news show Tagesschau (Realmedia-Stream). Not bad !!