Tag Archives: TeamDetroit

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



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!