Ford Flex Backs Humorous Suburban Dictionary
by Karl Greenberg, 73 minutes ago
Ford, which has just launched a social-media TV push for the Escape crossover, is doing another social program for the compact SUV’s larger stablemate, the Ford Flex. The Flex program, however, is a tongue-in-cheek effort to engage the ironically inclined urban expatriates who have not quite resigned themselves to life on Revolutionary Road.
Ford is partnering with amateur anthropologist of all things suburbia, Christian Lander (he wrote “Stuff White People Like”) for the effort.
The promotion asks members of the Ford Flex Facebook community (which now has about 44,000 members, according to Ford) to come up with dictionary entries for the Suburban Dictionary and post them on the Flex fan page.
The entries are pretty much straight-up irony: Fitness Museum, for example, is your garage, which is full of the exercise equipment you bought after making a New Year’s resolution to get in shape. You get the idea.
Here’s mine: Wallet Confetti (coffee house buy-ten-get-one-free punch cards you keep forgetting to get punched; your dentist’s phone number; a name and email you no longer recognize on the back of your business card, and the gym membership card that you now use solely as a toothpick.)
Ford says the dictionary was a joint project — a way to engage young couples who have moved from, say, Park Slope, Brooklyn to Maplewood, N.J.
“In order to help this growing segment of the population, Ford sent me deep into the heart of suburbia to help uncover the language and terminology required to ease into their new life,” said Landers in a release.
He continued, with Sedaris-like humor: “The Ford Flex is the perfect vehicle for the project as it helped me blend into my suburban surroundings without raising too many suspicions.” Ouch. Is that an endorsement?
“It allowed me to appear cool, but it also has plenty of cup-holders, which is perfect because I approach coffee with the same passion I used to approach music.”
Flex, which is getting a little long in the tooth in auto years, has been a sore spot for Ford over the past several months. The automaker has seen strong sales recovery for crossovers and SUVs in general over the past year, not to mention cars and the F-Series pickups. But the Flex, which Ford launched in late 2008, experienced a 20% sales decline last year, while total 2011 sales of Ford’s utility vehicles (crossovers and SUVs) were up over 30% for full-year 2011. This year seems like a repeat, with Flex sales down 20% in the first two months, although that may have to do with increasing gasoline prices.
“Lander is an interesting personality that we felt has a sense of humor and personality that fits well with our Flex fans and Facebook fans. Once we found out he was interested in this type of content it was a good match,” says a Ford spokesperson.
He tells Marketing Daily that Ford does not plan to call out specific features of the vehicle. “We are doing this more to engage our audience and give them content they will enjoy. Once we get people to be interested in the content, we know they will naturally look more into the vehicle if they don’t already know it well.”