|A portion of one of the Ford-sponsored AOL Latino City Guide pages.
The Spanish-language guides to 16 cities dovetail with the advertising tagline Ford adopted in late 2004, “Built for the road ahead” (“Hecho para lo que viene” in Spanish), as sections of the guides focus on family road trips and upcoming events, with each section linked to a different Ford model.
The program was put together with Ford’s Hispanic agency, Zubi Advertising, Miami.
'Apprentice'-like Web game
The city guides follow last year’s deal that created a Ford-sponsored Spanish-language site for entrepreneurs and small-business executives on AOL Latino called “Mi Negocio” (My Business). This year “Mi Negocio” will feature an Apprentice-like Internet game called “El Visionario” (The Visionary). Online voting and a judging panel will determine who stays in the game, and the winner receives a $100,000 prize in a combination of business and legal advice and cash. Applications are being taken now for the game.
“You have to keep growing,” said Joe Zubi, chief operating officer of Zubi Advertising. “We believe viral marketing can’t be stagnant.”
Ford’s sponsorships with AOL address a lack of online Spanish-language information on topics that are widely available on the Internet in English.
Five sections, five models
The home page for the Spanish-language city guides is divided into five sections. The city guide portion, sponsored by the Ford Focus, features articles including local restaurant, music and cultural reviews written by Hispanic journalists in 16 cities. Other sections: Family road trips are linked to the Freestyle; "Tu Voz" (Your Voice) message boards are sponsored by the Mustang; a section on getting involved in charitable community activities called "Sea Activo" (Be Active) is linked to the F-150; and a World section, sponsored by the Ford 500, covers events around the world.
AOL already does English-language city guides, but they have banner ads for various advertisers rather than a single sponsor and don’t have the additional sections of the Spanish-language version. The guides can be accessed from the English-language guides, or through AOL Latino, or by entering the key word “fin de semana” (weekend) on AOL.
“For the last two years, Zubi’s media and account groups and the AOL team have coordinated and developed programs from scratch to strategically pinpoint consumers against brands and give our Hispanic audience unique ways to interact with AOL and Ford,” Mr. Zubi said.
Tagline was the inspiration
The Hispanic city guides grew out of an AOL meeting with the Zubi agency to pitch online ideas for Ford. None of the concepts seemed to be working until Peter Blacker, vice president of multicultural and international at AOL Media Networks, was struck by the affinity between Ford’s “Built for the road ahead” tagline and AOL’s city guides. The idea was a hit -- and then Mr. Blacker had to figure out how to make it happen.
“At least four different divisions at AOL were pulled in,” he said. “It wasn’t just an ad campaign.”
Now the Hispanic city guides, for Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Antonio and the other cities, will be promoted across AOL Latino and Time Warner’s other Hispanic properties, Mr. Blacker said. There will also be six promotions between now and the end of the year, starting with a contest to meet Los Lonely Boys, a band that is a mix of Tex Mex and country and blues and sings predominantly in English but with some tracks in Spanish.