In what the network is characterizing as its most ambitious co-branded marketing campaign to date, the CW and Ford have teamed up on a cross-platform initiative that will give viewers a sneak peek at a roster of new and returning series.
Rolling out Thursday (Oct. 3), the campaign incorporates elements from Ford’s social engagement effort (“Fiesta Movement: A Social Remix”). Per terms of the partnership, five specially selected “agents”—the automaker’s term for young brand ambassadors who also happen to be social butterflies—will introduce the 2014 Ford Fiesta to fans of the freshman dramas Reign and The Originals, as well as CW tent poles The Vampire Diaries, Arrow and Hart of Dixie.
Each agent will be charged with carrying on a mission for one of the aforementioned series. For example, one socially aflutter ambassador will explore the crypts and mausoleums of a renowned New Orleans cemetery alongside The Originals actress Daniella Pineda (Sophie), while another agent will be styled for a Reign-themed photoshoot with Caitlin Stasey (Kenna).
The missions will then be boiled down to 60-second spots that will air during the CW’s season premieres and on the network’s Web site. The segments will be introduced by Candice Accola, who plays Caroline Forbes on the CW’s top-rated series, The Vampire Diaries.
The executions also translate to the printed page. Two full-page ads (one for Arrow, one for Reign) will appear in this week’s US Weekly, two will run in Entertainment Weekly (Vampire Diaries, Originals), and a Hart of Dixie ad will pop up in People StyleWatch.
The Vampire Diaries print ad features an electric-blue Fiesta and agent Lisa Schwartz, a Century City resident whose YouTube account has north of 621,000 subscribers. The creative talks up the Fiesta’s advanced technology and fuel economy (41 Highway MPG) and includes a tune-in for the show.
According to Barbra Robin, the CW’s svp of integrated marketing, the Fiesta agents have 2 million followers between them. “For a campaign of this size, we thought the social space would be the best place to start,” Robin said. “The agents are socially active viewers who fit our demo and are huge, passionate fans of our shows.”
The initiative coincides with the official launch of the CW’s fall broadcast season. At 8 p.m., The Vampire Diaries will kick off its fifth season ahead of the premiere of The Originals. (The spinoff moves to its regular Tuesday 8 p.m. time slot on Oct. 8, clearing the way for the Oct. 17 series premiere of Reign.)
Not only does the campaign talk up the Ford Fiesta in the lingua franca of the CW demo, but it also offers fans a behind-the-scenes look at the new and returning series. Naturally, the social-media element is pivotal to the entire initiative; although both shows have yet to premiere, The Originals already boasts more than 110,000 Twitter followers and Reign has passed the 50,000 “likes” mark on Facebook.
There is also a decidedly exclusive element to the partnership, as the new Fiesta will appear on no other broadcast outlet over the course of the campaign. “From an on-air standpoint, this is their ad campaign,” Robin said.
A favorite among young female drivers—the 1.0 EcoBoost was recently named the Women’s World Car of the Year—the Ford Fiesta has been a long-standing partner of The Vampire Diaries. In Season 2, Accola’s character drives a black 2011 model.
“This is one of the biggest launch partnerships we’ve done,” Robin said. “While it may not be reflected in terms of media dollars (with 10 hours of programming, we only have so much promo time), it’s definitely a huge media commitment.”