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Desperate Times/Desperate Measures

From: "Jenny Busby"
Date: July 29, 2009 11:47:27 AM PDT
To: Jessica Helfand
Subject: Winter House + Ford Fiesta

Hi Jessica,
I am contacting you on behalf of the Ford Fiesta Movement, a viral marketing campaign that puts the 2010 Ford Fiesta into the hands of (100) influential, social media stars (YouTube celebs, Twitterities, Bloggers, etc.) for 6 months.

Each month that the Agent’s have the Fiesta in their possession, they are responsible for completing one monthly mission and creating content around their mission in the form of twitter/facebook updates, YouTube videos, blog entries, etc that all tag to the live feed on the fiestamovement.com website as well as the agents personal sites.

August is social activism month and we would love to partner with Winter House to provide one of the Fiesta Agents with an exclusive opportunity to get a behind the scenes glimpse into how Winter House is inspiring artists to make a positive impact on the world.

In addition to having one of the agents visit your headquarters, we would also like to donate $500 to your organization.

Let me know if you want to jump on a call to discuss this further and answer any questions you may have about the program. In the mean time, check out the www.fiestamovement.com website.


Jenny Busby
Account Coordinator
Action Marketing Group
3020 Carbon Place, Suite 300
Boulder, CO 80301

Posted in: Business, Technology

Comments [6]

This e-mail brings up some issues about bloggers, and other online voices, having no real code of ethics. Bloggers aren't held to the same standard of fair journalism that their professional counterparts are. Add to this the fact that many bloggers aren't paid (or paid well) and you have a recipe for easy manipulation from corporate interests. I would hope that any blogger accepting this deal would disclose to their audience that they are receiving a "donation", which is a political term for bribe, in exchange for their promotional efforts.
Mitchell K.

While they've chosen poorly when approaching you, I found the most distasteful part to be "Let me know if you want to jump on a call" Yecchhhh, who says that to a stranger? #inauthentic
Steve Portigal

Let’s not forget that they supposedly mean to feature their “agents’” blog/tiwtter/facebook posts relevant to the “monthly mission” on their campaign website, which —I think— pretty much establishes that it should be out in the open that these “agents” are taking part in a marketing campaign. What I mean is: It would seem that there is no intention of “keeping it a secret” by making people believe these “100 influential social media stars” just happened to run into/purchase a Ford Fiesta and all 100 decided to —gasp!— blog once or twice a month for six straight months (no more, no less) about their experiences with said vehicle.

Furthermore, I wonder if Mr. K. has ever heard of advertising in the press. I have seen first-hand how potential disapproval from a large advertiser can quite easily shape the editorial integrity and direction of an investigative piece of journalism. That, I propose, may be interpreted as a commercial term for bribe.

I think bloggers and other such “influential social media stars” do have a very real code of ethics: their own. And more times than not this code is quite easily identifiable in their writings and their websites (for example, Jessica Helfand’s decision to release this communication upon Design Observer’s readership), and many times this code of ethics is fiscalized by the community that surrounds a blog.

The fact that most bloggers do not get paid for their content is not evidence of their corruptability, but a testament to the fact that their interests transcend monetary compensation.

One of the issues with the presented without comment style of posting is the conversation can go sideways by accidental or intentional misreading. The email is asking Winterhouse if they are interesting in having an agent (who are already in possession of the cars -- visit the website) visit them in order to be featured on the Fiesta website and attending social media. This would promote Winterhouse, not provide them with a vehicle in exchange for posting. There would be some quid pro quo hoped for (maybe DO doing a post about evolution -- devolution? -- of advertising, or just covering the campaign), but that's it, beyond the advertising equivalent of sending a student to do a book report. There are still issues of accountability, but I'm curious about Winterhouse's 'institutional' response. Y'all still do NDRC work, right? And one of the missions of the new DO is to write about design as social change. And Bill is by his admission a 'Mad Man'. Does this car or this campaign qualify as enlightened corporate responsibility or craven appropriation. It's being pitched right along side your own commitment to more global and environmentally aware living and designing. Everyone who is listed on the masthead has more than a passing familiarity with marketing or advertising. Is this repugnant and why? Belittling a junior acct exec who reached out ("unedited") because you present the organization as one explicitly engaged in social activism doesn't seem like a productive response.
miss representation

As someone currently living in the extremely economically depressed state of Michigan, whose state's coffers in the past have relied too much on the success of the automotive industry, I'm wondering if perhaps it is socially and morally acceptable to help the auto industry out by participating in this? Maybe we'll save someone's job, help them feed their family, help a kid through college, have someone employed help chip their bit(s) into Social Security...

Or is it more morally correct to punish American corporations for being shortsighted and greedy?

What a dilemma!

While Ford has had several projects, by far their most serious one has been the Ford Fiesta Activity, a grassroots public networking strategy to market the new Fiesta design by putting Fiestas in the hands of 100 public agents and having them enhance Ford’s new automobile through Tweets, weblogs, video, and activities, all without investing a money on conventional press.

But having never been greater than 75th in Car owner Power, the past Fiesta’s 89th last year is not a completely surprising outcome. Decent scores for running costs and handling help brighten the Fiesta’s results sheet, but low votes for comfort and brakes undo much of the good work.

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