Microsoft India’s new marketing initiatives, Ford Ka asks you to Go Find It and thoughts on the first Monocle Weekly

Happy New Year to all! This post is going to be a bit long, not because I’m going to recap the last year, don’t worry (!!), but because I’ve been meaning to blog for ages and didn’t get down to it till now, so there are a lot of things I’m going to mention…

First, I was informed that Microsoft India has launched Win with Search to make the process of searching for things more fun, where you have the opportunity to win free talktime when you play. It may not be a big thing to win free talktime here in the Western world, but if you’re a student on a pay-as-you-go (pre-paid) scheme in India, then I can see this being attractive. If you have some time on your hands, then you can also try this game. To promote Windows Live in the country, they’ve also launched the Windows and Me campaign. I particularly enjoyed watching the arranged marriage video on the site’s main page – I think it’s pretty funny and an accurate summary of how the arranged marriage deal works in the country!
Next, Ford has launched a new campaign for the new Ford Ka, where you can download a 3D application for your Nokia phone (if its a model from the last 2 years) – or a Windows Mobile camera phone – and then point your phone at the 3D marker to see things in a new light. More at Go Find It. Essentially, the campaign aims to target young people who like digital technology, like the car itself – which apparently uses a lot of it. I can’t vouch for it since I obviously haven’t driven the car, but it seems an interesting vehicle to look at if I were in the market for one. The campaign itself has some intriguing elements, like a film guide to street art around Shoreditch
Moving on, I listened to the first Monocle podcast the other day and can recommend it. The introductory programme had a range of speakers including Alain de Botton speaking about the forecast for 2009. Some of the things that were mentioned included the return of craft in CD covers (something I’ve been thinking about for a while), the aging of society in Japan, the fact that people are going to spend more time thinking about what they spend their money on, that delivering values will be of prime importance for brands (like Stumptown Coffee, a small American coffee brand that invests in things like bringing the people who grow their coffee beans in places like Africa, to the U.S, on internships. Their consumers buy that value when they buy their coffee from Stumptown, in effect). Fiona Wilson, Monocle’s Asia Bureau Chief, mentioned something that I wouldn’t have believed to be true if I’d randomly heard it: iTunes does not dominate the market in Japan (Hallelujah!). She also mentioned one brand I really like – Uniqlo, and said that despite the economic downturn, they are continuously shifting millions of pairs of jeans because of the superior retail experience they offer – which is something that Western retail environments need to work on. Further, it seems people in Korea are approaching life from a craft-based perspective. When I read about Anthropologie’s craft workshops, I thought the trend had spread to the West pretty quickly!! On a more serious note, it links back to what was mentioned in the Monocle podcast – the importance of adding value in what you deliver.
OK, that’s it for now. Bring on 2009. 

The Ford Fiesta is Now

A couple of days ago, I received an email from Sandrine over at We Are Social. In it, she mentioned that she was part of the team covering social media strategy for Ford. She then detailed the various aspects of the new campaign that’s being set in motion for the Ford Fiesta. I’m going to tell you about it in a bit, but first I want to clarify that I’m only doing that because I truly do find it interesting – it’s a good example of integrated marketing, which is something I’ve been going on about for a while. Second, I want to give a shout out to Sandrine for getting her outreach process right – she mentioned my name (not just a hi or hello), so I’m being treated as a person and not just the recipient of a mass email, and she’s clearly been following my blog, however briefly, because the Ford Fiesta execution is right along the lines of the things I think and write about. In case anyone is interested, I recommend reading Chris Brogan’s post on how to pitch to bloggers. I’m nowhere as well-known as Chris, but it’s important for brands to know that the web is a great leveller – what I say will be picked up even if it is to a smaller extent than (really cool) people like Chris. 

OK, so on to the campaign. Based on the central theme of ‘This is Now’, Ford has set up collaborative art project. The project has four stages: the first involves a series of work commissioned by animation artist Noah Harris. Some of these broke in an ad released yesterday, which was directed by Harris himself.
The second included work submitted by art students across Europe – select ones will feature in the press and outdoor campaign. The third brings in the public, who can submit pictures capturing their own sense of ‘Now’ on the This is Now Flickr group. And finally, launching in October will be a Fiesta site that will display all the work from the previous stages, and let visitors create their own mash-ups. I’ll keep an eye out for that.
The This is Now blog ties together the entire campaign and will cover it as it progresses.
If you look at the ad, the Flickr images which make up the press and outdoor bits, and the blog, you’ll see a clear picture emerging. In fact, ‘This is Now’ starts to make sense as a concept, and the Ford Fiesta as a product seems to mirror the thought beautifully. This campaign seems well thought-out and executed, not a case of some fantastic imagery being produced in the name of marketing – which is a trap a lot of brands fall into nowadays, I feel.
One of my relatives was talking about buying the Fiesta soon. Now I can totally tell him to go for it.