There's been a lot of talk -- both positive and negative -- about Ford Motors' new ad campaign "Go Further," not so much because it represents a change from "Drive One" (both are via AOR WPP’s Team Detroit) but because the launch campaign actually doesn't mention Ford at all, although it shows Ford vehicles as if they were models in a photo shoot.
The automaker held a press conference on Monday about its ad strategy and its shift toward the new creative approach. Unfortunately, it was one of those media moments when -- as fate would have it -- people listening in over the phone likely wound up wishing they had just flown to Dearborn, Mich. for the thing, since some reporter with obstreperous children, a loud contractor, a screaming wife and two pit bulls hadn't figured out that phones nowadays have these things called mute buttons. Ah, well. We did get the PDF, although we missed some choice comments from marketing chief Jim Farley and Sir Martin Sorrell of WPP.
Farley said Ford brand opinion has improved dramatically since 2008, when it lagged Honda and Toyota in every major indicator -- particularly in perceptions of quality, environmental sophistication, safety and smart tech. "We had a serious gap in 2008 and we knew we had to improve consumer perception in a reasonably short time in these four areas."
What did come through from Sir Martin (before many of us became too frustrated from the ambient shrieking to remain on the line) was that the media landscape is changing, but not in the ways we have necessarily come to expect. "Many people have been predicting the demise of legacy media like TV, but the statistics show media consumption [of TV] is rising. TV has continued to grow, against conventional wisdom." He also said that print is still strong, although the most challenged of all media.
Farley said the company is now most focused on building its favorability and thus sales performance on the coasts, since in the past Ford was heavily dependent on sales in the middle of the country. The company says that even though opinion has improved 35% on the West Coast and 41% on the East, it is still below average in those regions, while still enjoying above-average opinion in the middle of the country.
Ford said brand favorability has increased 32% overall from 2008 to 2011 -- with a 34%, 70%, 24%, and 38% increase in favorability for quality, "green" and gas mileage, safety, and innovative technology, respectively, although it concedes it trails Honda and Toyota. In consideration the company said it has seen a 32% improvement as well during the period -- and it is at the highest level ever and leads Honda, while trailing Toyota slightly. And in shopping, per Ford, the automaker saw a 33% increase from 2008 to 2012. The company says it leads Honda and Toyota in vehicles shopped.
According to the automaker, the new “Go Further” campaign has done remarkably well -- name or no name. The launch ad was the number one viral video for the week of April 30, garnering 3.4 million views (which Ford says equals the average views from this year's Super Bowl campaigns.) Also, per Ford, 40% of visitors to the GoFurther.com site clicked through to Ford.com; and 9% of Web traffic came from California, followed by New York. Texas, Florida and Pennsylvania rounded out the lead markets for the ads' ability to generate Web traffic to GoFurther.com. The sentiment was also 95% positive based on Twitter comments, said the automaker.