In a recent blog, Toby Bloomberg complains "What is wrong with marketers and advertisers?"
She points readers to Ford's recent advertising campaign, "Swap Your Ride," which includes a television commercial with this voiceover: "We didn't tell them we were from Ford; we told them it was... market research." The tag line on Ford's website supporting the campaign reads - "No Scripts Or Prompts. Just Real People. Telling Real Stories." (Bloomberg adds slyly, "To a Fake Marketing Research Company.")
Officially: "To ensure the authenticity of the responses, Ford made certain none of the consumers knew beforehand that they were participating in a Ford-sponsored event. To keep its participation under wraps, Ford created a market research company, 'In Home Test Drive Experience LLC,' to recruit almost 90 competitive vehicle owners to evaluate one of 11 Ford vehicles, including a Ford Fusion, Focus, Mustang, Taurus, Edge, Escape, Escape Hybrid, Expedition, Expedition EL, F-150 or F-Series Super Duty during a week-long test drive."
one who has had several opportunities to evaluate vehicles with
extended seat time, it's seems easy to love any new car with a full
tank of gas that displaces one's own 'ordinary transportation' for a
few days. I'm immediately curious to know how many of those "Real
People" didn't love their week-long swap, and preferred to keep their
own regular ride.
According to official PR, "Swap Your Ride" participants were asked before and after their test-drive experience whether they would be open to purchasing or leasing a Ford vehicle in the future. The results: Purchase consideration following consumers' week-long product evaluation doubled to nearly 80 percent.
Bloomberg also asks: "Is this stealth marketing? Sounds like gray marketing at the very least to me. Not to mention that I feel it discredits the marketing research industry."
She also wonders what will happen the next time Ford (and I add, "or any other manufacturer") conducts "real research." Will respondents, who saw the commercial, assume that they're talking to a 'Fake Marketing Research Company?'
What do you think?