Test Driving Social Media

Cinema and photography alumnus Alex Morrison ’02 looks beyond the camera lens.  By Melanie Breault ’11

As social networking continues to change the future of communication, Alex Morrison ’02 plans to be right there with his camera.

While Morrison was working on his graduate thesis film at American University — documenting the creation of social networking for independent rock bands — he came across an ad inviting people to participate in a social media campaign for the new 2011 Ford Fiesta. Only 100 “agents,” as Ford called them, would be chosen, and Morrison knew he had to be one. He posted a clip from his film on YouTube, and based on its storytelling strengths and his online presence, he was selected out of 4,100 applicants.

Ford’s Fiesta Movement is a marketing campaign for their new, fuel-efficient Fiestas, but with a social networking twist. Morrison and the 99 other agents drove their Fiestas for six months and shared their experiences through videos they posted on the company’s website and other social networking sites.

To differentiate it from other marketing campaigns, the Fiesta Movement assigned their agents six missions to complete, one every month. Themes for the missions changed each month, and agents were required to incorporate the car into a relevant activity.

During his social activism mission, Morrison spent a day at the Youth Service Opportunities Project in Washington, D.C., where he filmed a dinner for the homeless community, hosted by student volunteers.

“This was the one I wanted to get right,” he says. “I stayed behind the camera because I wanted the focus to be on these individuals, rather than myself.”

Being a Fiesta agent wasn’t easy, especially as a full-time graduate student with several odd jobs. But with the help of Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, and of course Ford, Morrison was able to hone his skills and do what he loves: make films that mean something.

“At first, this [opportunity] meant additional publicity for me,” he says. “Then it became a tool not only to advance myself, but to benefit the people I met along the way and still make sure that Ford got some publicity.”