The highly successful China launch campaign for the Ford Escort earned ChangAn Ford and J. Walter Thompson Shanghai a Gold Effie at the Greater China Effie Awards show.
This integrated campaign, which spanned TV, radio, print, PR, retail, online and social media, as well as cinema and outdoor, introduced and positioned the Ford Escort as an aspirational family car among the target demographic; middle-aged family men in China’s third-to-sixth tier cities.
"At J. Walter Thompson, we exist to pioneer solutions that build our clients' brands and businesses. It's a huge honor to be recognized for having done just that for ChangAn Ford in China,” said Dan Ingall, Managing Director of J. Walter Thompson Shanghai.
Auto sales are nearing saturation in China’s first and second-tier cities, but there is still huge potential in the third-tier to sixth-tier cities and beyond. The campaign, which ran from Dec 2014 to March 2015, aimed to position the Escort as the sedan of choice for the forward-thinking family man in China’s smaller cities. This is a group of men that works hard for their families, but may not be as career driven as their counterparts in first tier cities; they enjoy their lives and value time as much as money. They want a car that provides a safe and comfortable daily commute for their family, yet also shows their enterprising spirit.
The TVC tells a visual story that spans 10 years in one family’s life in just 45 seconds, using a one-shot technique, with the Escort at the centre of the action. The story positions the Escort as a family car that will always be with you on the way to the happiness. The tag line of the launch campaign, ‘Let Happiness Hit the Road’, readily lent itself to expression across channels, driving brand awareness, online opinion and showroom traffic.
The campaign also invited consumers to submit user-generated content on their own special family moments and leverage 36 short films directed by up-and-coming movie directors. The top four most popular films were featured on WeChat Moments, the social network’s new sponsored feed, in January 2015, when China celebrated its Lunar New Year festival – a period when people go back home for a family reunion dinner.
Working with Dreamworks, ChangAn Ford also created custom designed preroll videos that featured characters from the film Madagascar interacting with the Escort, which aired online, in cinemas and CCTV’s Children’s Channel.
The campaign made the Escort the most preferred brand in its category, and helped it become the number-one selling car in its segment after just three months. The campaign attracted three times more WeChat followers that originally targeted, and drove Ford’s Weibo fan base to nearly one million - double that of the leading competitor. The campaign microsite itself, meanwhile, drew over 125 million page views. The Baidu Index, which measures search and social media, shows the Ford Escort had 42% more activity than its competitors during the campaign period.
J. Walter Thompson served as the creative, strategic and integration agency on the Escort’s launch campaign; Walk-on Advertisement as the media agency and Bolaa as the social media agency.
“ChangAn Ford is extremely proud to be recognised with this Gold Effie. With hundreds of new products launched in China every year, it is extremely difficult to earn customers interest and attention. Launching a brand new nameplate is always a particularly difficult challenge. For the success of this campaign to be recognized by a panel of such outstanding professionals, is a great honour,” said Wesley Liu, General Manager, ChangAn Ford Sales Company.