Had I known it existed, I almost certainly would've reviewed "Random Acts of Fusion," Ford's pave-the-interstate-with-smiles road trip of a video series, in this space. I’m sure I would've had something to say about Joel McHale's aggressive deadpan and about our collective surrender to Ryan Seacrest’s disarming okay-ness. I likely would've become the 3,600th Internet-writer-type person to fail miserably in an attempt to describe, encapsulate, characterize or otherwise qualify Kate Micucci's sublime adorability for the masses.
The operative words there: Had I known it existed. As best as I can reconstruct from scattered Internet detritus, "Random Acts of Fusion" debuted a few months ago. It stars McHale and button-cutescruffy-banged Angela Merkel of the ukulele smirky spirit-dolphin Micucci as a dumb guy/straight gal team of would-be documentarians. The subjects of their prying cameras: the winners in a mass giveaway of Ford Fusions, which included some kind of domestic-voyage component. Or something.
But since publicizing branded video series appears to rank on most companies’ priority list somewhere below custom-printing cocktail napkins for their ad-launch galas, I did not become privy to the existence of "Random Acts of Fusion" until it was 10/11ths of the way through its 11-episode run. That's a problem makers of these series have to confront at some point: How do you accommodate latecomers? Is it possible to give them a point of entry other than at the zero-second mark of episode one?
That's a topic for another column. In this particular instance, however, Ford has found a novel way to extend the life of "Random Acts." Remember way back in paragraph two, where I talked about how in the series they were making a documentary? Well, they made the documentary. How whimsically, predictably meta!
And yet I'm kinda charmed by it, because I'm kinda charmeddelightedenrapturedbeguiled enchanted by Micucci and her ukulele. She provides the clip’s soundtrack, warble-guiding tardy/newbie viewers through the campaign. We hear about McHale's faux-mishaps, about Seacrest's blithe agreeability, about some of the neat-o destinations to which the contest winners were transported, and about the Fusion.
We hear a LOT about the Fusion. In Micucci’s “Free Bird” of rampaging cuteness melodic ditty, it’s described, among other things, as “a dream to drive” and a machine that “makes you look cool when you're driving down the highway/oh yeah.” We also get testimonials from the contest winners, a population so racially, ethnically and gender-ly diverse that it’s borderline suspicious. They like the Fusion a whole bunch, owing primarily but not exclusively to its design ("like a spaceship"), techno-dashboard (to paraphrase: “whoa”), directionally sentient robot under the hood (“it practically parks itself”) and Eco-Boost something-or-other (courting the practical-hippie demographic, are we now?).
By the time the clip has expired, you will believe that the Fusion has the answers to transportation-related questions you never dreamed of asking. You will wonder how Ford can price it below $430,000. You will commit insurance fraud by driving your current car through an aviary window and using the policy proceeds to buy a Fusion. You will ask the Internet to support your online petition to get the Fusion to host “Saturday Night Live” (and spend the next ten days in bed after the Internet instead throws its support behind a color-safe shampoo).
This is, of course, the way it ought to be. In far too many brand clips and series, the creators play it cool, hoping their easy-sell approach will resonate with marketing-weary viewers. Ford does just the opposite, to fine effect. Clearly it believes in the car – why not shout about it from the top of the highest mountain? Enthusiasm is underrated, in Internet video as in the procurement of office supplies.
I like the “Random Acts of Fusion” documentary approach. I like the chemistry between the actors and the seeming genuineness of the contest winners/“real people.” And I like Micucci’s wide-set eyes and uke-hardened fingers and the way she curls up her mouth just a tiny bit but not too much in mock disdain and her t-shirt singing voice. In conclusion, I like the campaign – not enough to go back and watch “Random Acts of Fusion” from scratch, but plenty enough. I wish I’d found it sooner.