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Ford clips clicking along

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Ford clips clicking along

Online Fiesta video goes viral; F-150 drag race hyped on Web

Alisa Priddle / The Detroit News

Ford Motor Co.'s continued unconventional marketing efforts include a Fiesta YouTube video with more than 2 million hits in three days and an invitation for consumers to drag race a 2011 F-150 months before it will arrive in dealerships.

They are the latest examples of automakers' efforts to augment traditional advertising and auto show displays with social media and events to engage potential buyers.

Ford continues to woo young buyers for its new Fiesta subcompact with a video that features rally car racer Ken Block in a Fiesta drifting, spinning and burning rubber at a track in France. A YouTube clip went from 300 viewers Monday night to more than 2.3 million Thursday afternoon.

At the other end of the spectrum, Ford is introducing four new engines in the 2011 F-150 pickup and is inviting about 20,000 consumers, dealers and fleet managers to test them next week against the competition.

They will meet at speedways and stadiums in six U.S. cities -- Detroit is not one of them -- to race and tow and otherwise test the mettle of the pickups that will start arriving in dealerships at the end of the year. Some models aren't due until February.

Interested consumers can register online at www.drivef150.com, said Ford Marketing Manager Mark Grueber.

A smaller event, for Detroit dealers, will be in October. Grueber said the future vehicles being tested regularly at the proving grounds made it too sensitive to allow full public access.

"I'd rather consumers could drive it," said Lou Stanford, owner of Varsity Ford Ann Arbor. "Second best is having your people trained so they see what these engines can do and pass it on to their customers."

The final consumer event is Nov. 13 at a Los Angeles speedway, and dealers are taking 2011 F-150 orders now, Grueber said.

"Buyers are interested in what their friends have to say versus the official message," said analyst Stephanie Brinley of EMC Strategic Communications in Troy. "And getting people into vehicles is still the best way to sell cars."

From The Detroit News: http://detnews.com/article/20100917/AUTO01/9170346/1148/auto01/Ford-clips-clicking-along#ixzz0zn8hdJj3

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