Brand Aid 360

With the rise of social media, advertisers and businesses are taking cues from their customers.

>>  Advertising content used to be “thrown over the fence in hopes that it would strike a chord with new and existing customers,” says Kevin Smith, a principal at 360 Brand Machine, a marketing company in Troy that specializes in automotive accounts. “Now consumers are creating brand content.”

With the rise of social media, advertisers and businesses are taking cues from their customers like never before. The results speak for themselves: As consumers become more involved in creating ad campaigns, the content is less expensive to develop and resonates more deeply with a target market.

Consider a recent campaign by 360 Brand Machine and Tiny Toy Car in Detroit, which joined forces to help launch an interactive design experience that allows car and comic book enthusiasts to digitally design their own Ford Fiesta superhero.

Called “Fiesta Hero,” the program was designed to expose the Ford Fiesta brand to potential buyers online — especially younger people who have a passion for gaming, comic books, and superheroes. Available on various websites, the effort reaches an audience of more than 10 million monthly readers, especially those who closely match the demographics of Fiesta’s target customer.

The offering includes an interactive digital design tool that allows people to develop a range of customized designs and share those creations via social media. The concept was introduced at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, where 360 Brand Machine helped auto enthusiasts develop updated concept vehicles based on classic Lincoln designs from the ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s.

“The cool thing is you have a new audience where people are creating things that Ford’s design team might never envision,” Smith says. “Instead of one design team, you have a whole nation of designers.” db

— R.J. King