A forthcoming Web campaign pits the truck against current versions of the Dodge Ram, Toyota Tundra and Chevy Silverado.
One 60-second and six 30-second TV spots tout features like fuel economy, safety and capability with big block letters spelling out the message, and creative shifting from motif to motif. Ads started Sunday on "NFL on Fox." Tag: "It's not just a new truck, it's a new F-150."
Ford launches the digital campaign on Nov. 14 centered on webisodes comparing the new F-150 to competitors. F-150 Chief Engineer Matt O'Leary and Mike Rowe of "Dirty Jobs" host the "Prove It" videos, on a new microsite at FordVehicles.com.
In the 60-second TV spot, Denis Leary speaks as quick-changing imagery illustrates: "Okay, odds are if you're one of those people in the country with a pick-up truck, odds are it's not a luxury, it's a way of life. And chances are you aren't making your money pushing a pencil or hand modeling. You're probably working for every dollar and need your truck. So at a time when gas is more expensive than bourbon, and you gotta get more done in less time, it would be nice if there were a truck that offered more than payload, towing and mileage numbers. Well, the Eagle has landed."
Doug Scott, truck group marketing manager at Ford, tells Marketing Daily that TV will focus on football.
"I guess the best way to say it is that we feel that we have been talking to the core trucker for a while and know what he is interested in," he says. "With respect to football, NASCAR, pro bull riding, or country music, we believe that we have already had a strategy that lets us connect well with our core truck buyers, so we will use those same channels and programming to deliver this new message."
He says the style and tone are intended to be more direct and honest, "in terms of getting away from gimmicks and the kinds of over-the-top stuff that have crept into the world of truck advertising."
Print ads continue the Leary tone, with mauve block lettering and text like "Man, trailers are like a wild animal, always trying to get away from you."
Ford is launching the F-150 on the heels of Dodge, which launched the latest Ram in September with a reality-show campaign featuring guys driving the Ram on an obstacle course. The real obstacle course is the current market in which smaller means more--more sales volume.
Trucks have traditionally been insulated against market variations because of their unique function. But even trucks are suffering now. Ford sold 37,727 F-150s last month--a 41.6% decrease from October 2007, although there is sell-down of the current year model in process. Year-to-date sales are off 26.9%. Ford's not alone. Toyota saw sales of its Tundra pickup plummet nearly 60% last month, and 20% in the first nine months. Chrysler LLC said sales of Dodge Ram were off 30% last month and year-to-date through September.
Ford has featured country star Toby Keith in several recent campaigns for the F-150. Scott says Ford's involvement with Keith will not change. The current Keith tour, "Big and Baddest," features a stage shaped like the grill of the 2009 F-150. "Country music will still be a part of the formula, and Toby will be as well," says Scott.