Generation Why: I Get The "Impression" That Ford Wants To Party Again

Derek Kreindler
by Derek Kreindler
generation why i get the impression that ford wants to party again

As a first-rate cynic and an enthusiast of the English language, I reflexively cringe when I hear the latest “CBC buzzwords” (CBC is Canada’s version of NPR) that get thrown around by the sort of people who think that bicycles will eventually replace cars as our main mode of transportation in our future communitarian-utopia of urban living.

You may have heard them before; words like “vibrant”, “sustainable” or “diverse” inevitably always used as a positive adjective regarding one’s proximity to a farmer’s market or yoga studio. Describing oneself as a “storyteller” when one’s employment situation is murky at best. Describing any commodity good as “artisinal”. This is what I call “word torture”, and if George Carlin were still alive, he’d have a field day.

Imagine my horror when I logged on to the website for the latest installment of Ford’s Fiesta movement and saw it was chock-full of these nebulous descriptors. I nearly had to go back and read one of TTAC’s “Volts on Fire” stories just to calm my rapidly rising blood pressure.

For 2014, Ford is refreshing the new Fiesta, and adding a 1.0L 3-cylinder Ecoboost engine. They’re also dragging out the much touted Fiesta Movement social media campaign to help promote the car.

As we all know, Ford loves “social” – another nebulous word in our increasingly vapid 21st century lexicon. I am just old enough to remember when “social” had nothing to do with sitting in front of a computer screen, which was by definition, anti-social. Today it apparently means using a bunch of web tools to get people to create free marketing…err, “content” in the parlance of the internet.

Make no mistake, that’s exactly what this is. In exchange for a new Fiesta, gas, insurance and some camera gear, participants in the Fiesta movement are going to be creating free ads for Ford. Because after all, if you are not paying for a product or a service – especially online – you are the product. Well, your data is, but that’s another story altogether.

Previously, Generation Why has questioned the efficacy of campaigns like the Fiesta Movement. In addition to telling you how enthralled they are with “social”, Ford loves to tout how many impressions the Fiesta movement got; 3.5 million on Twitter and more than 6.5 million on Youtube.

Sounds impressive, right? Two problems here.

  1. 1) Those 6.5 million views are spread over 700 videos created by 100 participants. A friend of mine, with a Canon 5D, a rented Challenger and a B-List rapper, created a video with 41 million views and counting. Ford’s numbers look pathetic when more details come to light.
  2. 2) What the hell are “impressions” anyways? Frankly, I’m prepared to go out on a limb and label them a BS metric that doesn’t really tell us anything but sounds really good to people who nod their head out of fear of seeming irrelevant and out of touch.

Do the math and the average views per video is less than impressive. Think about it; we are all facing increasing demands for our attention, whether it’s TV, Netflix, video games, the internet, viral videos, past due bills, nagging spouses, recreational pursuits and in the case of Generation Why, making enough money just to move out of our parents basements and start a real life. Do we have time to watch some shitty amateur hack job of a video filmed on a GoPro about a car that will make us look poor (remember hatchback = poverty for everyone that doesn’t pray at the altar of European Auto Supremacy). Not a chance.

But Ford persists with the Fiesta Movement, the godawful Escape Routes reality TV show and the idiotic Jimmy Fallon Lincoln ad. It is astonishing that a company that creates such superb cars and manages to do a good job selling them (usually the two are mutually exclusive) is wedded to awful social media campaigns. Even Rihanna’s steadfast loyalty to Chris Brown is easier to decipher. It could be that Scott Monty and the rest of the “social” crew just need to justify their jobs and their lucrative compensation packages. The more likely answer is that nobody really knows which end is up, and everyone is afraid to say that the emperor is naked. At least that’s my impression.

N.B At the end of 2012, sales of the Fiesta trailed the segment leader, the Nissan Versa, by a roughly 2:1 margin. The Fiesta ranks 4th in the segment, with the Chevrolet Sonic and Hyundai Accent ranking in 2nd and 3rd. The Honda Fit is nipping at the Fiesta’s heels.

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  • on Feb 20, 2013

    Ford is getting GM disease when it comes to pushing stupid marketing on Gen Y, of which I am one. Urban hipsterites are a freaking dead end. How about suburban youth who have graduated college, maybe loved a chintzy old hot hatch as high schoolers, and want something that recreates the fun they had with their old Festiva but in brand new, high tech form? Show someone revving the piss out of it over some quasi rural suburban twisty road in SoCal. Or give up, and start selling cheapie versions of your volume cars with big engine options a la Chrysler. Or build more of what gen Y ACTUALLY buys: Mustangs, trucks and Focii.

    • See 1 previous
    • 28-Cars-Later 28-Cars-Later on Feb 21, 2013

      @Onus "An avenger or 200 used with the pentastar is a steal for use gen y’ers." Agreed. Suggested it to my 28yo bro, but he wasn't comfortable with the whole "Chrysler" stigma attached to it. Our parents on new vans and myself (used K car) got burned by Chrysler in the 90s.

  • Mcarr Mcarr on Feb 21, 2013

    As an IT guy that worked closely with a marketing dept, I can tell you the way those types measure success is far different from how I (a presumably normal person) would. Speaking of "impressions", I remember they had this metric where XXX,XXX,XXX number of impressions equaled ONE sale, so they're big focus was, you guessed it, to jack up the number of impressions.

  • Mike Beranek Would you cross this man? No way!
  • Skippity I kinda like styling. There’s plenty of lookalike boxes on the road. Nice to see something unique.
  • Make_light I drive a 2015 A4 and had one of these as a loaner once. It was a huge disappointment (and I would have considered purchasing one as my next car--I'm something of a small crossover apologist). The engine sounded insanely coarse and unrefined (to the point that I wasn't sure if it was poor insulation or there was something wrong with my loaner). The seats, interior materials, and NVH were a huge downgrade compared to my dated A4. I get that they are a completely different class of car, but the contrast struck me. The Q3 just didn't feel like a luxury vehicle at all. Friends of mine drive a Tiguan and I can't think of one way in which the Q3 feels worth the extra cost. My mom's CX-5 is better than either in every conceivable way.
  • Arthur Dailey Personally I prefer a 1970s velour interior to the leather interior. And also prefer the instrument panel and steering wheel introduced later in the Mark series to the ones in the photograph. I have never seen a Mark III or IV with a 'centre console'. Was that even an option for the Mark IV? Rather than bucket seats they had the exceptional and sorely missed 60/40 front seating. The most comfortable seats of all for a man of a 'certain size'. In retrospect this may mark the point when Cadillac lost it mojo. Through the early to mid/late 70's Lincoln surpassed Cadillac in 'prestige/pride of place'. Then the 'imports' took over in the 1980s with the rise of the 'yuppies'.
  • Arthur Dailey Really enjoying this series and the author's writing style. My love of PLC's is well known. And my dream stated many times would be to 'resto mod' a Pucci edition Mark IV. I did have a '78 T-Bird, acquired brand new. Preferred the looks of the T-Bird of this generation to the Cougar. Hideaway headlights, the T-Birds roof treatment and grille. Mine had the 400 cid engine. Please what is with the engine displacements listed in the article? I am Canada and still prefer using cubic inches when referencing any domestic vehicles manufactured in the 20th century. As for my T-Bird the engine and transmission were reliable. Not so much some of the other mechanical components. Alternator, starter, carburetor. The vehicle refused to start multiple times, usually during the coldest nights/days or in the most out of the way spots. My friends were sure that it was trying to kill me. Otherwise a really nice, quiet, 'floaty' ride, with easy 'one finger' steering and excellent 60/40 split front seat. One of these with modern mechanicals/components would be a most excellent highway cruiser.