Ford, which launched the global creative campaign for its Focus car in late February, this week is introducing a U.S. urban-market effort for Focus. The campaign is one of several major initiatives this year that has put the Dearborn, Mich. automaker's vehicles on shopping lists of African-American consumers.
The new campaign presents the car as enjoyable enough to bring out one's inner child. Automakers have taken that approach before: one-time Ford unit Mazda for years based its "Zoom-Zoom" campaign on that idea, initially with a child actor becoming the face and voice of the brand. A recent campaign for a 2010 model-year vehicle had a child's car-themed bed becoming an actual car that drives into a fantastical world until the child emerges from a tunnel as an adult.
Shawn Lollie, Ford manager of multicultural marketing, tells Marketing Daily that the idea came from consumer reactions to driving the car and from focus groups. "Some of what we heard is that it brought back good childhood memories, and sparked a lot of emotions. We wanted to tap into those feelings -- how you felt when you were a kid riding a bike."
Indeed, the ad shows a young girl learning how to ride a bicycle. Suddenly she's a grownup, driving her new Focus with a friend in the passenger seat. But she still has the enthusiastic voice of a child as she rattles off the technical advantages of the vehicle. "There will be one TV spot, but we are also going to try to do a 60-second in-cinema version for Screenvision cinemas," says Lollie. She says the long-form version will run prior to films like "Jump the Broom" and "Big Momma's House."
The campaign, via Ford's African-American AOR, The UniWorld Group, includes radio, print ads, and a digital execution on FordUrban.com. The TV spot begins this week on BET and TV One. Ford says the radio spots will air on the "Tom Joyner Morning Show," "Steve Harvey Morning Show" and on Radio One stations nationwide. Print ads will appear in Essence, Upscale, Vibe, Sister 2 Sister Magazine, Juicy and Rolling Out.
"At the end of the day, our goal was to show the driving experience in a way that sparked an emotional connection to the vehicle," says Lollie. She adds that Ford is also promoting Focus with partnerships around several urban-market events: the Allstate Tom Joyner Family Reunion in Orlando in September, the Essence Music Festival in New Orleans in July, and "something very big that we are doing with the BET Awards the weekend of June 24."
Ford is doing a separate program touting the Explorer crossover via a partnership with "The Steve Harvey Morning Show." The effort extends an ad campaign for Explorer with a wedding-crasher theme starring comic Kevin Hart. The promotion has consumers contributing weird marriage stories with a grand prize of a honeymoon trip to the 2011 Ford Hoodie Awards in Las Vegas.
The "Craziest Marriage Proposal" contest runs through May 20. For three weeks, the show will direct listeners to SteveHarvey.com, where they can register by watching the TV spot for the 2011 Ford Explorer that plays on the crazy-marriage theme.
In the Explorer ad, Hart shows up late to a wedding, acting boorish. After watching it, viewers can submit a "Craziest Marriage Proposal story" at the Web site. Consumers will vote online for the three craziest stories. The winner gets a wedding or vow renewal in Las Vegas during the Ford Hoodie Awards weekend in Aug. 11-15. The couple gets round-trip airfare, a honeymoon suite, wedding ceremony at Mandalay Bay and tickets to all of the award festivities. They can also bring six people along. One voter, randomly chosen, also gets a VIP trip to the Hoodie Awards as a guest of Ford.