Ford Fiesta Fails With 'Running of the Bulls' Video
There are many reactions that Ford would like to prompt in viewers who happen upon the company's Fiesta Movement campaign. The company would like them to feel attitudinal kinship with the Fiesta Agents, a group of selfie-shootin' twenty-somethings tasked with championing the cause one Vine at a time. It wouldn't mind if they, you know, remotely entertained the possibility of buying a car. But most of all, it seems, Ford wants viewers to walk away feeling that the Fiesta is bold, bright and nimble enough to house the life-affirming forces of their own enormous personalities. "You've got a big honking personality; so too should your buggy," etc.
Here's the problem: Most viewers aren't 24-year-olds pursuing online degrees in emoticon cryptography. And anyone outside that particular demographic will view a viral-video desperation play like "Running of the Bulls" and feel either pity or contempt, depending on how crotchety they are about hyper-engineered programs that attempt to pass themselves off as social-media-era whimsy. They will wonder how a quintessential American brand like Ford can't market to anyone under the age of 40 without coming across as grandpa pecking at the new digital thermostat, and they will feel sad. Hopefully, they won't take it out on their dogs.
According to the Fiesta Movement web site, the campaign is envisioned as "one epic social movement" in which quick-hit video, unrepentant hashtaggery and wacky goofball YOLO antics combine to paint the Ford Fiesta as the ideal personal-conveyance vessel for the tweeting hordes. In one of those decisions that probably seemed like a better idea at the time, they have entrusted the campaign to members of the target audience. Again, per the web site: "Hailing from across the country, these agents have personalities as vibrant as a Molten Orange-painted Fiesta. And ["they are"? "their personalities are"? Grammar good muchly?] as performance-driven as the all-new turbocharged Fiesta ST."
The folly of this tactical and strategic approach is on full display in "Running of the Bulls," a clip in which Ford taps the theoretically funny theoretical performance artists of Improv Everywhere to stage a faux bull-running down beachfront Venice, with a handful of Fiesta Agents in tow. The clip commences with 50 or so identically clad individuals sprinting away from others wearing inflatable oversized bull heads. It cuts away to capture reactions from passersby, who appear vaguely amused (I'd estimate that about 82.5 percent of the overall effort was devoted to engineering appropriate reaction shots). Then, in a move that screams, "If you don't spend every penny of your budget, we will gut you," the clip spices itself with celebrity megawattage in the form of Jimmy Kimmel Live sidekick Guillermo. He appears at peace with his decision to participate.
At the two-minute mark, the "commerce" light starts to flash and four intrepid chase-ees make their way into a Ford Fiesta. We see the rear-view camera in action and, indeed, it appears to function as a rear-view camera should, offering a view from the rear of the car. Then they're off and, as per the reality-entertainment handbook, it's testimonial time.
Of course, what the following testimonials from the Fiesta Agents add to this clip, much less the canon of western thought, is anyone's guess: "Some people were biking and cheering along, like, ringing their bells," "It was kind of spontaneous and crazy," "Everyone pretty much, like, embraced it." Nobody expects Economist-grade commentary and reflection from web-celebrity aspirants who place their lives on hold to participate in reality-marketing silliness, but really: This is the depth of their interpretive ability? It's fine if they don't have anything revelatory to share ("I liken my experience to that of the ancient mythic being Icarus. Just as he flew too close to the sun, so too did I traipse too close to the guy in the inflatable bull head. We are brothers in ambition, he and I"). Just hit the mute button and cut to the finish.
If you try hard enough and angle your head just so, you can usually find a silver lining in any bit o' video. Like, "the woman's shirt was sparkly." Or, "it does not appear to advocate persecution of any specific racial, ethnic or sexual class of beings." But I see nothing remotely redeeming in Fiesta Movement's "Running of the Bulls." It is bloated. It is derivative. It barely bothers to show the damn car. But hey, somebody within the Fiesta Movement camp has a sense of humor: On the site's "Missions" page, the clip is hashtagged "#entertainment." Yup.