Tag Archives: Ford

Ford Mimics Movie Ads

Auto advertising for seasonal clear-out sales are often boring. Many look the same.

The most common ingredients are running footage, someone talking VERY loudly and on-screen deals. Sometimes the marketers use existing commercials, but shorten them to add in info about the special deals.

The Ford brand thinks it has a better idea for its sales event this summer.

The Big Idea for Ford’s so-called “Summer Spectacular”event stemmed from the annual hot-weather blockbuster season for movies.

Each of the dozen new : 30 spots looks like a movie trailer. The first few seconds of all the spots are the same, showing the name “Ford,” but no cars. In addition, there’s four separate versions aimed at the Hispanic market, starring actor Cristian de la Fuente.

The brand believes the executions will not only break through the clutter, but boost the brand’s image and consideration, David Mondragon, general marketing manager for Ford and Lincoln, told me. Ford has increased favorable opinion on its brand by 20 points since 2008.

Ford’s ad agency, WPP Group’s TeamDetroit in Dearborn, tapped two Hollywood directors known for their prolific work on movie trailers. Kurt Mattila and Kyle Cooper, both of Prologue Films,have worked on movie trailers, including 2008’s “Iron Man” and “The Incredible Hulk,”: respectively.

Here’s one of my favorites– for the C-Max Hybrid- directed by Cooper

The Focus spot directed by Mattila features a love-sick vampire trying to convince his girlfriend not to break up with him. Other movie genres include the Super Duty pickup as a super hero; surfing for the Fiesta and a spy-chase for the Mustang GT.

But when you’re creating so many unique spots, there’s bound to be one or two that just aren’t as compelling.

To me, that’s this one- for the Escape, called “The Heist”

While it does cover the bases for the Escape’s cool features and benefits, it just feels forced.

You can see all the spots here

 FYI, during a Google hangout Ford’s social media maven Scott Monty did with director Mattila, it leaked that Ford will be making a special product announcement at Comic-Con International’s Convention coming up later this week in San Diego.

 In the past, Ford has used TV star and narrator Mike Rowe for sales events. Mondragon told me Rowe “is a great asset for Ford,” having narrated the recently-ended Eco Boost Challenge ads, and still doing Ford service and and truck ads.

Earlier this year, the brand’s regional dealer advertising adopted the same ad creative process used by the national team. Instead of just TeamDetroit developing the creative, multiple WPP shops get Ford’s brief and submit ideas, Mondragon said.

The TV buy includes both national and regional, airing through August. Ford and its regional dealer ad associations are spending as much on media for this as for the national buy. The buy includes 90% of movie theaters in the US during July and August, says. Mondragon, who served CEO of Ford of Canada for more than three years,

To extend buzz and reach, the media plan is integrated with a movie-ticket giveaway on moviefone.com, called the Summer Spectacular Movie Ticket Giveaway plus $3 off movie rentals on Amazon.com.

Ford will soon be announcing four movie nights that will take over theaters to display vehicles, show the ads and offer a movie to hand-raisers. Dealers will also be inviting customers.

The automaker started the Ford Summer Spectacular Giveaway of 2013 models this month. To enter to win one of the 10 vehicles, visitors to fordeventgiveaway.com must view videos touting the product features and benefits. The site has a link to Facebook if visitors want to get their friends involved.

It’s encouraging to see Ford trying something different for a sales event.

Doing something different doesn’t always work, as evidenced by the Limited Engagement Spring Event work this year from Nissan’s Infiniti brand.

Check it out and you’ll see what I mean

At first glance doesn’t it seem to be a clothing commercial? It IS visually interesting, but it takes too long to get to the point. Sorry, TBWA/Chiat/Day- it’s off the mark.

One male viewer on YouTube posted this wise crack :“Guys, the takeaway from this commercial is: Drive an Infiniti and the ladies’ clothes will just fall right off “

Clearly, that wasn’t what Infiniti was going for.

 MAKING TRACKS: Congrats to David Murphy, who is moving to Michigan to become president-USA of WPP’s TeamDetroit in Dearborn on August 1. davidMurphyTeamDetroit

Murphy has worked on car accounts over his career, including Lincoln, Jaguar, Land Rover and Toyota.

Follow me, Jean Halliday on LinkedIn and Facebook.  On Twitter @jhal2001

Ford’s “Animated” C-MAX Ads

Ford Motor Co. tapped a nameless, animated character, developed in Italy, for the launch of its new C-MAX Hybrid.

The “La Linea” character will appear in all C-MAX communications, arriving tonight in a pair of :30s on national TV from TeamDetroit in Dearborn. Ford is taking direct aim at the Toyota Prius, which virtually controls the hybrid market in this country. Ford’s ads are going to crow about how the C-MAX Hybrid gets better mileage, is cheaper and has more horsepower than the Prius v wagon.

La Linea (Italian for “the line), made it to American tv sets in the 1970s into 1986, appearing on the kids’ show “Great Space Coaster.”

In case you don’t remember the character, here’s one of the commercials, called “Be Great”

What’s not to like about the simplicity of the work and clarity of message? The ads are intriguing and should stand out in the auto category. The only thing that bothers me about these first 2 spots is the “Hi “line. It reminds me of BBDO Detroit’s 1994 launch work for the Dodge and Plymouth Neon: “Say Hi To Neon.”

Toby Barlow, executive VP and chief creative officer of TeamDetroit told me his group took the “Hi” road because it was more friendly than the industry’s traditional “introducing the…..” He told me “no one should be saying introducing. It’s not really part of the vernacular.”

Sounds good to me.

Using this simple character was no easy feat. Mama Mia!

Its creator, artist Osvaldo Cavandoli, died in 2007. TeamDetroit worked with Quipos, the company that has the rights to “La Linea” to keep the look authentic. Since the licensing deal required the animation be done by hand, TeamDetroit worked with Shilo. The New York shop, which has produced the MetLife ads with Snoopy, made computer versions of the ads. They were then sent to the animators so they could create everything by hand.

TeamDetroit’s Brad Hensen, creative director, said “the fact that each cell has to be hand-drawn lends a certain warmth to the animation.”

The C-MAX blitz will continue for 15 months and includes print, out-of-home and events. The social media play includes an ad buy on LinkedIn, probably on the sign-out page, plus Facebook and a micro site with amusing “Hybrid Games” videos spoofing two sports casters showing how well the C-Max performs against Toyota’s Prius v. This site


has a share button so visitors can spread the word for Ford if they want.

Since the vast majority of hybrid vehicles are bought in a handful of markets, Ford will augment the national media buy with regional.

Let’s be realistic, Ford isn’t about to unseat the Prius any time soon. Nor are any other hybrids in the near future. But Ford has a very compelling product offering in the C-MAX Hybrid that could slowly start eroding the Toyota’s share.

MAKING TRACKS: Russel Wager is back in the USA! Wager is joining Mazda North America Operations as VP-marketing from DDB in Beijing, where he led VW’s account. Wager left the US in 2010 to move to Japan joining  TBWA\Hakuhodo International as president and heading the Nissan account in 52 countries. He succeeds Don Romano, who resigned this summer as CMO and the head of Mazda in Canada. Romano is now said to be a distributor.

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On Twitter @jhal2001

Ford’s “Go Further” Advertising

The Ford brand is getting a lot of buzz from its new “Go Further” commercial that doesn’t vocalize the brand name or show badging on any of the vehicles.

Check out the minute-long spot

This commercial is NOT devoid of Ford branding. There are a few, very obvious clues to sharp-eyed viewers of this ad who the advertiser is. Gear heads and car enthusiasts would certainly know that the EcoBoost engines mentioned belong to Ford and Ford alone. Then at the :42 and :47 marks, the words “2013 Fusion Energi” and “Ford Motor Co.” appear on the bottom of the screen in small print for several seconds.

Bravo to Ford and its ad agency, TeamDetroit, both  in Dearborn, Michigan. This is a very smart way to reel in inquisitive people who would never consider a Ford since they would very likely to check out the gofurther.com web site appearing at the end of the commercial.

Ford says “Go Further” replaces “Drive One,” which always sounded a bit desperate and Ford’s days of desperation seem well in its rear-view mirror.

The automaker also says it’s making a conscious effort to move from showing people to showcasing what’s new in the showroom. Great move, since what is Ford selling after all? (And the move is reminiscent of the philosophy of the late, great Dick Johnson, top creative of BBDO Detroit on Dodge. See my post about Dick and his philosophy here


Hope this move means farewell to the “surprise press conference” format with actual Ford owners.

Ford has caught some flack for its “Go Further” line. Critics say Ford  copied the “Go Farther” ad tag that Isuzu used in USA ads starting in the late 1990s. Isuzu, which no longer sells light vehicles in the US anymore, wanted to convey the toughness and go-any where capabilities of its all-truck lineup. See what I mean in this Isuzu Rodeo commercial, one of my favorites in the series, from Isuzu’s agency Goodby, Silverstein & Partners in San Francisco. (Sorry for the lousy resolution, but it’s the only version I could find)

Yeah, the words are similar, but the intent of each auto brand’s ad tag is very different. Very different indeed, don’t you agree? Looking forward to the next versions of Ford’s “Go Farther” ads.

MAKING TRACKS:  Jack Valente, who moved to InStadium as senior VP of national business development, from client leader at Mindshare.

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Most Effective Car TV Ads

So what are THE MOST EFFECTIVE national car commercials? Nielsen’s Automotive group announced the winners in Manhattan recently during the press days of the New York auto show. It was the sixth straight year Nielsen has honored the most remembered messages, most  liked along with brand and model recall.

You might be surprised by some of the winners in the bunch for calendar 2011. If you are, please post a comment.

Let’s take a look

Lexus took home the prize in the Best Sales Event category- for its “December To Remember” year-end clearance. Lexus has used this sales theme for years, along with the giant red ribbon. Team One in  El Segundo, California, is Lexus’ longtime ad agency

In the Luxury category, Nielsen tapped Acura for the Best Campaign of the year. The so-called “Aggression” campaign launched the 20112 TL. rp& in Santa Monica is Acura’s ad agency. Here’s one spot from rp& in Santa Monica starring Calvin Johnson of the Detroit Lions

Another other spot in the TL blitz featured Ashleigh McIvor, a 2010 Olympic Gold medal skier

Haven’t been a big fan of Acura advertising for some time. And although I’m not enthralled with the above award-winning TL work, I did really like Acura’s Super Bowl over-the-top commercial this year with Seinfeld and Leno. This more recent spot, for the launch of the new 2013 RDX is one of my current auto favs and shows how Acura and rd& are improving the work

Toyota won Nielsen’s most effective Hispanic TV advertiser for a Corolla spot from Conill called “Memories.” You should be able to see it here


The other winner was the Ford brand for the Green Award. (Sorry, but I was unable to secure this spot). The Ford work, featuring an actual owner named Ivan, was created by TeamDetroit in Dearborn, Michigan.

The car TV commercial with the highest Nielsen scores, and thus catapulting it to win Best of Show is… Chevrolet, for “The Salute” commercial

Nielsen Global Automotive’s Exec VP Ian Beavis, described this spot as  “very emotional” and one that “clearly broke through” the clutter.

Chevy’s winning Equinox spot was from filmmaker Ben Alagna, not the brand’s 2011 agency of record Goodby, Silverstein & Partners. Alagna entered a short video contest sponsored by Chevrolet and Mofilm and took third place. The spot also did well at the New York Tribeca Film Festival last year.

While we’re on Chevy, let’s take a look at some new work for the Malibu Eco from Goodby

Anyone else out there who finds this spot too long and too silly?

I prefer this one for the Malibu Eco

Have you seen this commercial for Toyota from Australia themed “Tougher than you can imagine” for the Hilux pickup?

Now that’s a bit of fun, eh mate? Anyone want to predict how effective it will be?

MAKING TRACKS:  Jack Valente, who was the client leader at Mindshare on the Ford account, moved to InStadium as Sen VP-national business development.

Find me, Jean Halliday, on Facebook and LinkedIn or follow me on Twitter @jhal2001


TV host Mike Rowe is back, front and center really, in retail TV ads (aka sales event,) for the Ford brand in new work breaking tonight from TeamDetroit in Dearborn. The work will introduce new incentives that don’t look to be as generous as the ones that just expired.

Automakers’ ads for sales events can be awful. But Ford and some other carmakers, are starting to figure out a much better way of messaging. Thank heavens!

As Ford was trying to figure out how to make its spring sales ads stand out, “the answer was in our backyard” and his name is Rowe, said Matt VanDyke, director of Ford’s marketing communications in the U.S. The difference this time around is Rowe, the creator and host of Discovery’s “Dirty Jobs,” was there to interview all 30 people who got to drive a new Ford for a week and interview them on camera for their candid reactions. Most were filmed in Southern California and the focus is on fuel economy and technology, areas where VanDyke said Ford is a leader.
Ford picked the participants via Polk registration data and as simply as approaching people in parking lots.
The marketer ended up with 16 TV commercials, mostly :30s, unless regional dealer ad groups want to use :15s. In one spot, Kevin, a Honda CR-V owner who drove an Escape, is impressed that the Ford suv gets better mileage and he’d like to keep it for a year.  A Toyota Yaris owner who drove a Fiesta calls it “a complete upgrade” from his current car.”
At an event in Dearborn today, VanDyke said during the four years of “Swap” ads, consumer perception of Ford quality has improved by 46%; safety by 34%; innovation by 60% and environmental by 63%.
Those are some pretty impressive stats.
And if you don’t believe Ford’s stats, Nielsen Global Automotive President Lois Miller calls Ford’s “Swap” ads “very, very effective.” She cites Nielsen research showing that Ford’s “Swap” ads are 48% more memorable than ads for average auto sales events.
She notes that Lexus’ December To Remember; Honda’s Mr. Opportunity and GM’s Red Tag sales event ad efforts also saw some decent bumps in effectiveness.
Yes, folks, there’s a lot to be said for consistency in ad messaging. All the aforementioned campaigns for those automakers’ sales events carried the same themes for multiple years in a row. Duh! Today’s time-restrained customers are too busy to pay close attention to an advertiser’s new slogan. That’s if they even remembered the old slogan. Don’t assume people are hanging on your every ad word.
Nielsen’s Miller said people remember Ford’s ads more when Rowe is in them, plus 80% associate “Swap” ads with Ford. Nielsen research of its 2. 5 million online consumer panel also revealed a 30% jump in people’s intent to visit a Ford dealer in the next 30 days as a result of seeing the ad. “That’s huge.”
Ford’s 2010 “Swap” blitz is among the finalists in the Best Sales Event category for Nielsen’s annual Automotive Effectiveness Awards. The winners will be announced at the New York Auto Show on April 20.
The new “Swap” blitz will run aggressively for 60 days on TV and radio, regionally and locally. Regional dealer ad groups can pick which models they want to use. The online component features an extended-length ad on a variety of sites, including Google, AOL, Yahoo plus kbb.com, cars.com and Edmunds.com.
This year’s Spanish-language TV commercials of “Swap” will feature Chilean-born star Cristian de la Fuente for the second year in a row. Ford’s 2010’s ads with Fuente are a finalist in Nielsen’s Spanish TV Advertiser of the Year.
Former fashion model Boris Kodjoe stars in the African-American “Swap” ads.
Rowe, who has also been in Lee jeans’ TV spots, first hooked up with Ford in spring 2007 TV commercials for the F-150 pickup inviting viewers to “Take the Ford Challenge.” Later that year, he narrated commercials that introduced the “Swap My Ride” ad blitz that showed owners of non-Ford products after they drove a Ford.
Ford didn’t use Rowe in “Swap” ads in 2008 or 2009, as the entire U.S. auto industry pretty much hit the bricks. But he did appear in other Ford ads during those years and appeared in “Swap Your Ride” ads in 2010.
Here’s one from a year ago for the Transit Connect

After a nasty turn in the barrel for a good part of the last decade, Ford is doing a lot of things right these days. There’s still some work to be done on changing perceptions, but the much-improved products and fuel economy are starting to click with buyers.

MAKING TRACKS: Kim McCullough is the new brand Vice President at Land Rover North America, proving you CAN go home again. McCullough is overseeing marketing communications and product planning, reporting to Gary Temple, President of Jaguar Land Rover North America. Her last gig, since August 2009, was assistant general manager at the western region of Toyota’s Lexus arm. She’s one smart cookie who was instrumental in the launch of Toyota’s most competitive Tundra pickup several years ago. McCullough knows Land Rover because she worked there from 1997 to 2001 in marketing and has ad agency experience.

KUDOS: To Subaru of America and its “Love” campaign, for taking home the 2011 Silver Award at the Advertising Research Foundation’s David Ogilvy Awards for Excellence in Advertising. These honors are based on advertisers who produce research-driven, successful ad campaigns. Ya gotta love it!


Mercury’s Rear View Mirror

Mercury’s long, strange road is coming to its final destination and will rest in peace with other brands like its short-lived sibling Edsel, Chrysler’s Plymouth and Eagle, along with GM’s Oakland, Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Saturn and Hummer. Ford Motor Co. finally pulled the plug officially, saying it will stop production on the brand’s products at year’s end.
The heyday for Mercury, which first arrived on the scene in fall 1938 as a ’39 model, is long past. Insiders at Ford and outsiders have debated its future for decades. Mercury was a place for officials to get their tickets punched and move onto the bigger Ford Division.
Mercury models have long been similar, but spiffier versions of their Ford sibling. Think Bobcat (Ford Pinto); Capri (Mustang); Sable (Taurus); Tracer (Escort) Mountaineer (Explorer); Mariner (Escape) yadda, yadda yadda.
No wonder it was so hard to figure out exactly what the brand’s positioning and differentiators were. And when you can’t do that, how in the world can you clearly create messages to convey the core of the brand?
Mercury shifted ad themes too often. It confused people. Mercury changed targets from mainly men to more recently primarily women, but the audience has flip flopped several times over the decades. The brand’s core positioning changed, depending on who was running the division and which new products were coming. Let’s face it, the brand had an identity crisis.
The demise of a long-standing, well-known car brand is a big deal, so what better time for a retrospective of Mercury ads and agencies.
Here’s how it all started, ad-wise from N.W. Ayer & Son, for the first Merc

Mercury Arrives!

Readers of a certain age will recall Cougar commercials with a real live big cat and ones like this 1975 spot that built viz and an acting career for Farrah Fawcett

Here’s another one for Cougar from 1980

A personal favorite was the “Imagine TV” campaign that arrived in fall 1997 from Y&R, under the baton of Ian Beavis, then ad manager of Lincoln-Mercury. All seven commercials were edgy vignettes that appeared to be airing on a fictional network. At least it broke through the clutter of some of the other sleep-inducing auto ads at the time.

The effort extended the marketer’s two-year-old “Imagine Yourself in a Mercury” theme. Problem was not enough buyers were doing that.

Mercury shifted gears again in fall ’99 with “Live Life in Your Own Lane.” That’s one of those tag lines that you could apply to lots of car brands, so nothing special there.

“New Doors Opened” broke in fall 2004 as the new tag-with music created by Grammy winning artists’ Paula Cole and Don Was. The thinking, according to the press materials at the time” was the campaign would “feature the vitality of the Mercury brand woven into the everyday discoveries of modern life.” Huh?

Mercury tried several weird, online webisode gambits. Also in the fall of 2004, it debuted “Meet the Lucky Ones,” exploring the bizarre, connected lives of 10 people. Tedious as it was, Mercury said it drove traffic to mercuryvehicles.com by 400%.
Then came the bizarro, what-were-they-thinking TheNeverything.com webisodes about two brothers living like children on a houseboat in the middle of a field.

The “new doors” closed in 2006, when aspiring, young actress Jill Wagner was tapped to appear in ads telling viewers “You’ve got to put Mercury on your list.”

But in 2007, Ford slashed national ad spending for Mercury, letting the regional dealer groups
carry the ball.

In mythology the god Mercury was among the most favorite of the ancient deities. Too bad the car brand didn’t have the same popularity as the wing-footed god.

Fiesta is a “PRETTY BIG DEAL”

Ford is pulling out the stops to launch its 2011 Ford Fiesta small car. Already a year in pre-launch with the bar-setting social-media gambit at fordfiesta.movement.com, this splashy :60 commercial from Team Detroit will arrive during the live broadcast of “American Idol” May 18 on Fox. And you’ll see it in theaters next month.

The commercial, and a pair of :30s from WPP Group’s Team Detroit shows off the car’s features in a fun way that’s refreshingly different for the auto category. “It’s a pretty big deal” is the theme of the blitz.
Starting at $13,995 for the sedan and $15,795 for the five-door hatch, the new Fiesta is indeed a big deal: A big batch of technology, including more than a dozen features that are first to the small B-class segment, like a 6-speed automatic tranny and LED parking lights. This is Ford’s biggest car launch of the year.
Ford is making hay over the fact that Fiesta has a better fuel economy rating from the EPA, at 40 miles per gallon, than the comparable-sized Toyota’s Yaris (36 mpg) or Honda’s Fit (35 mpg).
Ford said at a press conference today at Team Detroit that the Fiesta Movement, which started last May, has generated 132,000 hand raisers, 80% of whom are new to Ford and 30% are under 25 years old. Of the hand raisers, 11,000 shifted to make a purchase agreement with a dealer. That translates to a 14% conversion rate, which Ford said tops its typical rate of between 1 and 2%.
Get this: Matt VanDyke U.S. marketing director, said the Fiesta’s year-long prelaunch was 5 times more efficient than any other prelaunch Ford has done. Ford gave 100 “agents” active in social media a Fiesta and some sort of buzz-generating assignment every month for six months starting last May. The second round of agents, 20 teams of two people, started early this year.
The car isn’t even in showrooms yet- not ’til this summer, though Ford is being vague about exactly when.
But wait- there’s more, lots more.
A half-dozen Fiesta webisodes created by Ford-picked “agents” went live last week at http://www.fordvehicles/fiesta.com and have already tallied 500,000-plus views. Not a big fan of the “Dawn of the New Key Fob” episode, in which a zombie chases drivers of the Fiesta, Yaris and Fit through the woods. Then again, I’m not the target audience for this stuff.
Fiesta’s launch also has magazines, events, digital, out-of-home, and a major multicultural push. Zubi handled the national and local Hispanic TV and print ads, which are aimed at bi-lingual consumers and mainly in Spanish. Digital ads on portals and a social media play will direct traffic to http://www.readypatumundo.com, which means “ready for your world.” Univision created the African-American portion, which includes a national TV ad and a big radio splash.
The second round of “agents” will stage at least 100 Fiesta events between now and summer’s end.
Ford says this is its new go-to-market strategy.
Rivals, take notes ….. and learn. Imitation is the best form of flattery!