Ford Flex Finds Novela Way To Reach Latino Consumers

Ford’s Flex crossover will star in a mini-novela from Telemundo, the latest effort to target a hot new subsegment of the Hispanic population.

The Flex will debut July 7 in a 22-episode series Amores de Luna. It is considered the first time a crossover has played a pivotal role in an original serial created for TV and the Web, according to the network.

This push by Ford to woo U.S. Latinos follows successful efforts in recent years around the Edge and Focus. The automaker is aiming its message at an emerging breed of Hispanic consumer known as nuevo Latino, usually 30-39, bicultural and described as “an aspiring free spirit who follows and lives up to traditional Hispanic norms but who also is embracing more contemporary attitudes,” said David Rodriguez, manager of multicultural marketing at Ford, Dearborn, Mich.

“There’s a business case for marketing the Ford Flex, one of the fastest-growing segments in the Hispanic market,” said Rodriguez. “Sales among Hispanics are outpacing the general market as it relates to percentage of growth.”

As the setting for most of the action, the Flex is seamlessly integrated into the scenes of the two-and-a-half-minute episodes. They tell the story of the novela’s other main character, Cecilia Marquez, a happy wife and mother with a steady job who wants more from life and sets out to fulfill her dream of becoming a writer. But conflict ensues as a new man enters her life, pitting marriage and family against her personal desires.

Although the miniseries is the showpiece, the Flex is the center of a broader, branded cross-platform entertainment campaign created by Telemundo to target Hispanics via the Web, mobile and network-owned stations KVEA, Los Angeles; WNJU, New York; and WSCV, Miami.

“It’s a true multiplatform execution,” said Enrique Perez, svp-sales at Telemundo Station Group, a division of NBC Universal, New York. “Each platform complements the other, and the experiences that we try to offer for each give consumers a deeper way to use TV, the Internet and mobile to connect with the novela.”

Viewers will get a chance to determine the fate of the novela character (although we’re told that in the end she doesn’t choose the Flex over the suave male lead) via online and mobile voting toward the end of the series’ run. Miniseries episodes will be broadcast on the three designated Telemundo stations, airing weeknights after the 11 p.m. newscasts. The episodes will be available for viewing online at each station’s Web site the following morning.

Ford’s ad spend in Hispanic network and cable was $39 million in 2007 and $7 million January-April 2008, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.