Ford’s Innovative use of Microsoft Tags

Last week, Ford ran a full-page advertisement in The New York Times to promote the 2011 Edge, the company’s new crossover vehicle, as well as its new MyFord Touch on-board voice and touch command system, and featured in the ad were four Microsoft Tags. What’s so innovative about Ford’s use of Tags in this ad is that none of the Tags have anything to do with the 2011 Edge, MyFord Touch or Ford as a company.

Here’s what’s happening in the ad…

The top half of the ad (see top image below) promotes the Edge and the MyFord Touch system. The bottom half of the ad (see bottom image below) features the four Microsoft Tags. Next to each Tag is a short descriptive paragraph which explains that the Tag is linked to a New York Times article on the subject of either technology or style. Again, nothing to do with the product or company. To the right of the four Tags is a set of instructions which informs readers about how to get a Tag reader app and scan the codes, in addition to what they need to do if they do not have a camera on their mobile device.

Ford Microsoft Tag

After watching an online video demonstration for the vehicle and the MyFord Touch system, there is little doubt that the car is an automotive and technological marvel. Similar to the way smartphones continue to become more about apps and productivity and less about making an actual phone call, the Edge triggers the same thoughts with respect to automobiles and the act of driving. In viewing the product video, it seems as though a person doesn’t even have to drive the car to still enjoy being in it and, if that were not enough, it seems as though a person can be more productive than ever while driving the car or just sitting in the driveway.

In my opinion, a 2D advertisement like this works, and here’s why. By featuring Tags (i.e., 2D codes the latest in mobile technology, relatively speaking) in the ad, Ford reinforces the idea that the Edge is a technologically advanced automobile. Also, because the Tags resolve to articles of general interest that serve to enhance the everyday life of a consumer, Ford is able to reinforce the idea that the MyFord Touch system enhances the driver’s experience. 

While I may be taking this to an extreme, what I am not doing is discounting the notion that 2D codes can be used simply to enhance the customer (or yet to be customer) experience. Nowhere is it written that 2D codes must be directly associated with the product, service or company that created them. To think in the marketing terms that Ford is strikes me, because I am not a huge fan of automotive marketing, past or present. Maybe it has taken the recent shakeup in Detroit to rethink how the company should market its automobiles.

What is also refreshing about this campaign is that, at a minimum, Ford has taken the time to think through the creative and overall strategy as it pertains to the codes. It will be interesting to see if and how this campaign continues to roll-out given that the Edge is a 2011 model.


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