Who’s Spending the Most to Get Your Attention?

Biggest advertisers in America (ranked by annual dollars spent), according to 2013 Kantar Group report:

  1. AT&T: $1.59 billion
  2. Verizon: $1.43 billion
  3. Chevrolet: $958 million
  4. McDonald’s: $957 million
  5. GEICO: $921 million
  6. Toyota: $879 million
  7. Ford: $857 million
  8. T-Mobile: $773 million
  9. Macy’s: $762 million
  10. Wal-Mart: $690 million

Ford Explores Open Road of Social Media

PaidContent.org recently featured Ford’s plan to let its customers do its advertising for them via social media. The column analyzes the risks and potential rewards. Perhaps it’s something innovative to keep in mind for your company — if you’re feeling brave:

With its back against the wall financially, auto maker Ford is taking a radical and risky approach to the marketing of its new Fiesta: Later this month, it will hand over the branding and promotion duties for the car to 100 twenty-somethings who have no advertising experience.

Ford is giving each of them a Fiesta to drive around; recipients range from award-winning indie filmmakers, to single moms, to aspiring dancers, and even avid gamers, and they’ll document their experiences with the car through YouTube vignettes, blog posts and other social media updates for six months. The kicker is that Ford will have no control over what they post, meaning the effort could ultimately end up tarnishing the brand almost a year before it hits U.S. dealerships.

But it’s a risk Ford has to take—since it’s in a fight (to the death?) to attract young, tech-savvy consumers that may have never thought about buying a domestic car before. The company believes that traditional marketing won’t sway this demographic.

Dubbed the “Fiesta Movement,” Ford worked with New York-based social media consulting firm Undercurrent to help flesh out the concept; more than 4,000 people submitted video auditions, and the WSJ reports that Ford chose the recipients based on a “social vibrancy” rating—a measure of how much they were followed online and across how many platforms—as well as other factors like overall creativity, video-making skills and of course, their driving histories.

Ford isn’t the first car company to try to reach younger consumers through social media: Toyota’s Scion brand has launched initiatives in virtual worlds like Second Life and There.com, Honda partnered with Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim for a user-generated t-shirt campaign, and Chevy’s most recent effort gave away free Aveo5 hatchbacks to winners of an online video competition.

But giving consumers control over a brand can backfire: in 2006, Chevy let YouTubers make commercials for the 2007 Tahoe, and instead of getting clips that showed off the SUV’s features, most of the entries focused on how bad the truck was for the environment. Still, Ford acknowledged that the stakes were too high to not engage its target demo in the most edgy way possible: “In terms of awareness, we have to go from zero,” Chantel Lenard, Ford’s global car marketing manager, told the WSJ.

Big and Blue: Michigan’s Unemployment Rising, Tax Revenues Shrinking

Michigan is a beautiful state, but right now its economic situation isn’t. The Detroit News offered this article yesterday articulating just how true the phrase "no rest for the weary" is becoming for the Great Lakes State, noting a projected unemployment rate of 11% coupled with declining tax revenues:

Michigan’s jobless rate will top 11 percent in each of the next two years and state tax receipts this year will come in $870 million below estimates made in May due to the languishing economy, according to a revenue forecast released Wednesday.

The House Fiscal Agency report says unemployment in Michigan, which was 8.4 percent in 2008, will rise to 11.3 percent this year and 11.4 percent in 2010. The jobless mark will peak at 11.7 percent in the first quarter of 2010, the report predicts.

"Michigan’s economy and state revenue will be significantly affected by the national recession, the weakened level of motor vehicle sales, the tight credit conditions, and the financial condition of General Motors, Ford, Chrysler and their suppliers," the report says.

U.S. Senators: Auto Bailout No-Go for Now

The proposed $14 billion auto bailout, which passed the House, was defeated in a procedural vote by the U.S. Senate last night. However, both Indiana Senators, Richard Lugar (R) and Evan Bayh (D), voted in favor of allowing a vote on the measure.

Lugar says:

“A new Congress will be in place in a little more than three weeks and will be able to again consider options. In the meanwhile, the Administration has the funding and ability to extend credit to the car companies as they have already done in the financial sector,” Lugar said.

“In 1979, at the brink of collapse, the Chrysler Corporation came to Congress asking for aid. Senator Paul Tsongas and I worked more than six months to forge a deal based on tough love: assistance would be provided, but only on condition of substantial compromise by all parties,” Lugar said.

Auto Bailout Passes House

The auto bailout for the Big 3 (Chrysler, Ford, GM), worth $14 billion of assistance, passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 237-170. Here’s how Indiana’s Congressmen voted:

Andre Carson (D)
Joe Donnelly (D)
Brad Ellsworth (D)
Baron Hill (D)
Pete Visclosky (D)
Steve Buyer (R)
Mark Souder (R)

Dan Burton (R)
Mike Pence (R)

The bill now heads to the Senate. Indiana’s junior Senator Evan Bayh (D) has this to say:

“We’re faced with trying to choose the best among unpalatable alternatives. Nobody wanted to give money to the banks or to the insurance companies, and nobody wants to give money to the auto industry. I don’t. But if the alternative is losing hundreds of thousands of jobs and having automakers, dealerships, part suppliers, and other retailers in local communities go down, we have to make a hard choice here.

“People think the economy is bad now, but if we let all these companies go belly up, and all those folks get laid off, I’m afraid it would be much worse.

“Indiana has a huge stake in this debate. If the big auto companies go down and thousands of jobs are lost, it’s going to hit us a lot harder than almost any place else in the country."