Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: The Hills of North Georgia,USA
F-150 ads tout rugged side
Ford campaign key to success of revised pickup
By Mark Truby / The Detroit News
DEARBORN -- In a massive ad campaign that debuts today, Ford Motor Co. is portraying its new F-150 pickup -- one of the most important vehicles in the company's history -- as a cross between Indiana Jones and Rocky.
A blitz of TV commercials will feature the full-size pickup fording streams, scaling hills and undergoing harrowing trials at the automaker's engineering labs in Dearborn and its proving ground in Yuma, Ariz.
The message: The truck has "earned the right to be the next F-150."
"We made the truck the hero of the campaign," said Tom Cordner, co-president of J. Walter Thompson, the Detroit-based advertising agency that created the campaign.
Ford is spending more than $100 million over the next six months to pierce the consciousness of truck buyers around the country. Ford Division President Steve Lyons said the marketing effort is easily the most expensive in the company's history.
While Ford is cutting costs in most areas, it couldn't risk skimping on marketing for the F-150, the best selling vehicle on the U.S. market and the company's most reliable profit maker.
Ford sold 813,701 F-Series pickups last year. Despite increasing competition from both domestic and foreign makes, Lyons' goal is to sell more than 1 million F-Series per year.
While reviews for the new F-150 have been solid, even glowing in many cases, the initial advertising campaign is critical to public acceptance.
"An ad campaign has a lot to do with how you get started," Lyons said.
Ford also has the advantage of a huge and loyal body of current and former F-150 owners.
"They will be very interested in what the F-150 has done to merit all this attention," said Jim Sanfilippo, an automotive marketing expert with AMCI Inc. in Detroit. "They are ready to hear Ford's message."
Beginning this week, Ford will air a series of short ads to tease the official debut of the new truck. The campaign moves into full swing next Thursday and will run through what Ford is calling the truck's official kickoff weekend.
A series of F-150 ads will run during every televised National Football League game between Sept. 4 and Monday, Sept. 8. The ad blitz should reach about half of all prospective U.S. truck buyers, Ford said.
The spots will not only feature the truck rambling over hill and dale, but emphasize its quiet ride and more luxurious interior. One ad, called "America's truck," plays directly to the typical U.S. truck buyers' patriotism. The spot depicts the F-150 being built along a large assembly line that spans the United States -- past farm country, over bridges and through cities.
Ford is asking its 3,800 dealers nationwide to hold special sales events on the kickoff weekend. Garland, Texas-based Ford dealer Jerry Reynolds said he plans to mount a new F-150 on a flatbed truck and drive it around his sales region to drum up excitement.
Ford also has asked Detroit-area Ford dealers to break with tradition and remain open Saturday, Sept. 6. Some dealers, though, have balked.
"We will be closed," said Keith Batko, general manager of Russ Milne Ford in Macomb Township. "They would like us to stay open Saturday but we aren't going to do it."
Other initiatives Ford plans to build awareness of the new F-150:
* The F-150 is sponsoring a commercial-free season debut of the hit TV series "24." The truck will appear in the first episode, which is expected to draw 20 million viewers.
* The new pickup will be a prominent set piece in country music star Toby Keith's upcoming concert tour. The concerts will feature a modified F-150 that transforms into a stage at the beginning of Keith's performance.
* Ford created separate ad campaigns to appeal to Hispanic and African-American buyers. Lyons said it was the company's most extensive multicultural marketing push to date.
(Photo)Ford is spending more than $100 million over the next six months to appeal to truck buyers around the country, easily the company's most costly campaign.
My first car was a 67 Mustang Coupe, 2nd one was a 67 Cougar XR-7, 3rd one was a 66 Mustang Coupe. Why did I get rid of these cars for ? I know why, because I'm stupid, stupid, stupid.
My next Ford.....