Ford: 2015 Ford Beacon and Wi-Fi Experience

Campaign Summary

Ford developed a beacon and Wi-Fi experience for the brand’s presence at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS). The brand created the experience specifically for Mark Fields’ keynote and the Behind the Blue Oval event (BTBO). During Fields’ opening keynote in the Joe Luis Arena, content was published in real time to an exclusive group of attendees. For BTBO, as a means to showcase the all-new F-150, Ford provided a beacon experience that triggered location-based content and educated attendees about the award-winning vehicle. BTBO also featured a Wi-Fi infrastructure and blogging experience that provided an interactive map and live blog content.


Objective and Context:

Ford’s objective was to utilize emerging technology to enhance the Ford experience at the North American International Auto Show. The objective of the blogging experience during the keynote speech was to develop earned social activity. The BTBO experience was a means to showcase the new F-150 and entice viewers to share the truck’s features on social media.

Target Audience:

Ford had two target audiences:

  1. Everyday Tech User: An individual who has a pragmatic orientation towards technology and will view it as a means to an end or a solution to make life easier.
  2. Active Tech Seeker: An individual who is a tech-savvy influencer. This person is energetic, mobile, passionate, and always connected. The tech seeker continually searches for ways to optimize how he/she works, shops, learns, and plays on the go. He/she actively embraces new technologies.

Both audiences included men and women between the ages of 25 and 54, with a college education and a household income of at least $50,000.

Creative Strategy:

For the keynote, Ford wanted to create an experience that could publish content easily from the back end, in real time and in accordance with Fields’ speech. Ford then wanted to allow the press audience to gain “exclusive access” to this content and easily share that content via several social channels. The brand provided a live-blogging experience, named “Live Feed,” that was available through the Cisco Meraki Wi-Fi infrastructure and was included as the landing page once attendees logged on. For each post, the attendees could simply tap once to post it to a social feed. 

For the F-150 beacon experience, delivering location-based content tied to vehicle features, Ford chose 11 vehicle features to be pushed to mobile devices and wearable devices via 11 beacons, positioned in specific locations on the vehicle. As attendees approached the F-150, they were greeted by a TDI facilitator and given a mobile device and smartwatch, and as the attendees walked around, the beacons triggered vehicle feature content on both the mobile and wearable devices. Ultimately, the attendees had an educational, self-guided vehicle walk-around.

For BTBO, Ford also wanted to provide a robust Wi-Fi infrastructure for attendees and a way to provide attendees awareness about what was going on and where it was located. Ford created a mobile site that provided an interactive map of the nine exhibits and a continuation of the live-blogging experience feature from the keynote that continued to publish real-time content.


Overall Campaign Execution:

Providing the blogging, beacon, and Wi-Fi experiences at NAIAS were first-of-their-kind executions for Ford, so the team wanted to use this opportunity to establish benchmarking for future NAIAS iterations. The team did build off of the Lincoln MKC beacon experience showcased at the MMA New York event in October 2015, providing more beacons and more content for the F-150 experience.

There was a significant initial investment because this was at the forefront of utilizing hyper-location technology to communicate. Because Ford knew this was its first true integration of Wi-Fi, beacons, social, and wearables into a location-based effort, support from the entire company was needed.

Mobile Execution:

Mobile and wearables were the backbone of the event because of their adoption, high usage, and location abilities, and the evolving functionality of content distribution. All of these key functionalities were needed to execute flawlessly. Ford was revealing innovative technology with new performance car information (the new Ford GT) and needed an innovative way of communicating. The brand wanted enthusiasts to fulfill their need to “be the first to hear about it,” and then allow them to tell everyone easily.

Results (including context, evaluation, and market impact)

Performance evaluation:

  • The Ford hashtag trended in the top 10 during the event and overtook the entire event’s social media.
  • The hashtag was used over 1,000 times during the keynote.
  • For the BTBO event, the F-150 beacon experience triggered an estimated 960 pieces of content to mobile and wearable devices.
  • For the BTBO event, Ford had over 2,000 devices live-blog and map interactions.

Ford successfully achieved its objectives and positioned the brand for more success at the next NAIAS event. The technologies used in conjunction with each other were absolutely the defining factor of Ford’s domination of the North American International Auto Show. Ford was trending in the news for 10 days following the event.

Categories: | Industries: | Objectives: The Internet of Things | Awards: Finalist

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