Ford & Social Media – a con? Ford Australia and spam

It’s a mistake when companies use social media to gain email addresses to do spam email marketing campaigns. No really, it is. Business realities? Don’t kid yourself…. A while ago, I joined a Ford Facebook campaign. You entered your name and contact details on Facebook to become a social media reviewer – get the car…

It’s a mistake when companies use social media to gain email addresses to do spam email marketing campaigns. No really, it is. Business realities? Don’t kid yourself….

A while ago, I joined a Ford Facebook campaign. You entered your name and contact details on Facebook to become a social media reviewer – get the car for the summer, write reviews on it etc. I entered the competition, I tweeted about my old Toyota Feroza breaking down (as a “hint hint”) and never heard another word back. Nothing, nada I don’t even know who won or why. Not a sausage back.

Until today when I got this spam EMAIL. (see images at the bottom).
So, I have two questions.
1. Why not, when using Facebook to collect details, advertise on Facebook? The ads setup is simple enough – check the box that says “show ad to everyone that is a fan of Ford”. Social ads at least have a chance of being relevant (useful to those looking) or more easily ignored (less likely to piss those off that aren’t looking). Ah well at least we weren’t spammed to join a period pain community.
2. Why jump into email that forces me to a) open your email b) get the shits with it c) mark it as spam so that Google starts watching your email server and d) betray a social trust?

Betraying social trust

I expect spam sites to collect email addresses to send out unwanted emails. That’s a given. I don’t expect Brands that are trying to build up social collataral to on one hand be “engaged”, “in discussions with customers” “respecting the social contract” and on the other to be betraying that ideal with low budget, poorly thought out strategies to build up some crappy broadcast (not social) database.

I think we need to get our stories straight. Either we are engaged in dialogue or we are shouting our brand message. We can’t have it both ways. Though I do remember a teacher at school who always used to yell “WILL YOU JUST SHUT UP SO WE CAN ALL HAVE A DISCUSSION ON THIS”. Poor ol’ thing… Do your campaigns fit in with your marketing strategy?
Notice the last photo tells you to PHONE 133 Ford to get off the mailing list. So from social Facebook to spam my email to private one-to-one call-on-hold phone calls. The slippery slope….

NOTE: this post was written on my brand new iPad with the keyboard dongle dooverlackie using the WordPress App and the inbuilt screen shot facilities of iPad/iPhone. Pretty neat huh? I might start blogging on the train and at the doctors now.

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  1. You are right to highlight this kind of activity Laurel. What I suspect is the truth is that it’s not completely deliberate – eg Ford didn’t set out to run a Facebook campaign in order to garner email addresses to then email promo materials. Rather, I’m guessing, there is a disconnect between the various marketing people, agencies and strategies. The left and right hands.

    One came up with the Facebook campaign.

    A few weeks later someone else said ‘oh look, I’ve found a list of email addresses we can send the newsletter to’

    Doesn’t negate the annoyance. But it does reinforce the importance of strong coordination of these digital media activities.


    1. Well it’s either “conspiracy” – let’s use a competition to get a bunch of email addresses for our newsletter” or “stupidity” – “we need to converge our IT requirements into one CRM system blah blah IT&T, blah blah infrastructure blah blah”.
      I actually think it was a) consipiracy. They were pretty adamant on the signup form to know how many friends on Facebook, how many twitter followers etc to make sure they gave the “summer car” to an “influencer”. When I handed over my account details (email, Twitter etc) I thought “yoohoo Imma gonna hear from them again”. Twas right.
      of course some mean ppl could say I”m just be miffed I missed out on a vroom vroom – always a danger with competitions in social spaces (hint: competitions rarely end well for anyone but the winner and even then… ) The new anti community finds reasons why they didn’t win…
      Y’know I never hear back from these big companies. Only once in 5 years of pointing out mistakes and giving advice have I ever got work that way. Not that I consider it a waste of time – better everyone else learn from their mistakes. PLUS, I do usually hear from their competition …. so I keep busy 😛

  2. Just so that there’s no confusion though, does this mean when you supplied your email address to enter the competition it didn’t actually say “from time to time we will send you promotional material” or the like?

    1. Nah I wouldn’t opt in to that – I’m seriously not a car person. I even had to ask Gary “what car do we drive” ? I like competitions where I can get a new car though – might’ve checked that box. Don’t remember it tho

  3. Laurel- what a lot of rubbish – when you entered this promo (probably keys to the city I suspect), there are clear opt in requirements, and you would have provided your consent to receieve future promotions. You do not have to cal 13 FORD, you can also hit the unsubscribe button just above the 13 FORD reference to opt you out automatically from future promotions…..have you tried this by any chance???

    Taking aim at big corporates is a cheap shot especially when there are clear ways you can unsubscribe, may I suggest you attempt this before making such foolish remarks

    1. Kat
      Miss the point, much?
      Using social media to engage influencers by… sending them spam email negates the “social” element. The fact the usability of the webmail sucks is secondary.

      Put it this way – you want me to trial something and blog about it? Treat me with respect. Even pay me. Don’t treat me as another entry in your spam mail database.
      Note: I’m very careful with opt in – marketing data from me gets earned not handed over for the slim chance at promoting a car. I don’t fill in vouchers at supermarkets for that reason and am not easily tricked online.
      So I missed a “unsubscribe” option? Oops. So you missed the blog point of social vs traditional marketing? Oops
      Humans eh? :p

  4. So you did not win a car for the summer, Laurel. Tough, but it does not make you an untermensch. Would your post on Ford spam have appeared if you had won? The ‘crime’ will only happen when the winner is delivered a car that has “Driven FREE by a Facebook winner — call 133 Ford to win” splattered over the side, or in the back window.

    1. I entered a competition on Facebook so it serves me right that my email address ends up in a spam email database. In not having won the car I have no right to point out that placing email address gathering Trojan horses into Facebook social media campaigns has ethical issues. Gotcha

      1. Ouch! Gotcha. A confession: social media do’s and don’ts are relatively new territory to me. I come from a generation in which spam came between two slices, and junk mail was dropped through the mailbox, not ‘virtual’, but a real mccoy hole in the front door: it was usually from Readers Digest telling me I had won a million dollars or so. But I’m trying. I promise. I only hope that mentioning your Feroza problems does not lead to spams from Honest Syd’s Fixacar Motor Mechanics in Redfern telling you about his ‘One Week Special Discount Offer on all Toyota Repairs’. And at least Ford did not offer you a free penis extension and year’s free supply of Viagra if you buy a ‘limited edition 50th anniversary Falcon sedan’ by the weekend (I read the ad above — so it works!)

  5. My name is David Katic, I’m the General Marketing Manager for Ford Australia and I read your post this morning and thought it was important to respond.

    The issues you raise in your post are ones we deal with constantly, especially when working in the digital space. You are absolutely right that being perceived as spam only creates negative feelings about your brand and it’s just not worth it. We have some golden rules when collecting customer information – the usual things like making it as clear as possible when people register that they may receive marketing materials from us and also how to opt out because we don’t want to send stuff to people who don’t want it. The fwdaford competition of course carried these same messages (and you didn’t opt out at the time).

    Fwdaford was a genuine campaign to encourage discussions about our vehicles online, it wasn’t primarily about building a database. Real conversations happened in quite a few forums during the campaign – Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, etc. Anyone who was a fan of the Facebook site had the opportunity to follow and contribute to these interactions for months.

    So why didn’t you hear from us this year until June? We try not to send too many emails because our experience is that if you do you just end up being irrelevant. That’s why we only sent you 3 emails since you registered for the competition in October last year. We also try to provide multiple ways for people to unsubscribe – like a link at the bottom of the email and a phone number. This is all aimed at keeping the consumer in control – not us.

    Thanks for the feedback.

    1. Hi David thank you for your response and for clarifying that Ford does not use blogger outreach campaigns primarily to build an email database, but as genuine citizen Journalist relationship building activity. At least that is my understanding of your comment 🙂

      FYI for others: the underlying message remains- confusing social media with traditional broadcast-y emails is a dangerous strategy. Tell me: do you expect to see more campaigns of “lets do a social media campaign to increase our one-way, DoNotReply newsletter database” type?

  6. to the executives in charge of the ford motor co. aust.
    I have been for 30+ yrs part of the ford family and am now considering divorcing you guys
    reason i am getting the run around of your customer service dept. i have warranty until 25/12/ 2011
    they have all these details along with plenty of my emails
    i even wanted the ceos email to let him know how pretentious they are I own a xr8 2003 mod.which spat a plug and cost me $700 + $400 in accommodation while i had to wait for it to be repaired when i got it back it was running rough as so i spent more of my money on diagnostics and remapping to re balance the motor this should not of happened from a ford service center very disappointed with ford and am now considering going to HSV for my next performance car

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