Ford and SMS Marketing Campaigns that Fail

the ford logo with fail instead of ford

Sometimes there’s a fine line in direct marketing (and social media) between cultivating a relationship and spamming.  In this case I’m pretty sure Ford drives (pun intended) right over the line without even seeing it.

Several months ago I opted-into a mobile marketing campaign run by Ford.  I saw a television commercial for the new Ford Escape and at the end of the spot it asked me to send a text message to learn more about the SUV and “promotions in your area” (this was a national TV spot).  Since I’m in the business of helping companies with text message marketing, I texted in to see how this campaign worked.  If I remember correctly the campaign asked me for my zip code, via text message, and then replied with a current financing offer in my area.  I believe there was also a number to call if I was interested in speaking with a dealer.  In the end it was a fairly straight-forward, and pretty lackluster, mobile marketing campaign.

A few weeks had gone by when I received another text message from Ford.

“Ford: Thanks for your interest in Ford! Your local area dealers still have great offers. Reply w/ur full name 2 B contacted. Msg+Data rate apply. Stop=Optout”

While this message is not only very vague (what are these great offers?) the only call-to-action is basically “reply now so our salespeople can attack you”.  It’s bad enough to receive a message like this once, but since initially opting into the campaign I have received this exact same text message EVERY TWO WEEKS.

Of course I could opt-out but at this point it’s become interesting to see how long they’ll keeping sending me the same useless message.  When I get the message I wonder about the marketing manager at Ford, and if they approved this “hit them over the head until they buy” technique.  I also wonder how many people have opted-out.  Maybe I’m the only person left.

While this type of messaging isn’t technically spamming, I would imagine the results are the same – people are leaving or ignoring the messages, and Ford is missing an opportunity to create some interest in their cars.

Why not link me to some information about new models, or maybe even a mobile video?  Could you tell me what the “great offers” are?  If I had a chance to learn a little more about their product maybe I would be open to reaching out to a dealer for a test drive.  I may not be ready to buy today but now that you have my attention at least give me a reason to consider a Ford when I am ready.

Coincidentally I recently received an email from Infiniti with an “exclusive look” at one of their upcoming SUVs.  I clicked onto their site and watched a short video highlighting some of the features (something I could do over my phone as well).  Am I going to buy the Infiniti?  No, not right now, but which car company do you think will be higher on my list when I’m ready?

This post was written by Justin Mastrangelo, President of JA Interactive, and originally featured on Dymun + Company’s corporate blog.  Dymun + Company is a full-service ad agency based in Pittsburgh, PA.

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I couldn't agree more!  I too received the same messages & opted out after the 3rd repeat message.  I was all excited when I saw their commercials.  It seems to be the standard operating procedure today.   Lackluster campaigns are producing lackluster results.  I'm just thinking that these companies are overwhelmed with marketing duties today.  There's e-mail, social media, blogs, videos, direct mail, tv/radio, mobile web advertising, etc.  Someone spoke about this recently, I believe it was Rob Clifton. Great post!


 I think "overwhelmed" is a great way to put it. More marketers need to adopt the motto "If you can't do it well, don't do it at all."  Experiences like these are just a negative for the brand. Glad you liked the post!