The long-awaited, much-heralded Ford 2015 F-150 truck is coming, and the automaker is announcing its arrival with what it says is its biggest truck marketing campaign ever.
The campaign centers on sports, especially NFL and NCAA football. The campaign launches this week with television commercials during the first-ever college football playoff for NCAA Division I teams. There are also sponsorship components around Professional Bull Riding, NASCAR, Future Farmers of America, and country music, with mobile across all platforms. The effort -- including a comprehensive media buy on Fox news and sports -- focuses on the truck's aluminum alloy frame, and various innovations like the truck's 360-degree camera, LED headlamps, and remote tailgate release.
The 60-second anthem ad is a montage of contractors, farmers, construction foremen, and other folks who use the pickup for work. It touts the truck's 700-pound weight-loss, consequent performance enhancement, hauling and towing capacity. The second spot focuses more on the product features and the third on towing and hauling abilities.
In addition to the TV campaign -- which includes two 30-second ads -- there is also radio and a country music tie-in, pretty much the cultural stomping ground of the pickup truck demographic. But the effort also includes a separate campaign for the other truck demo, and the fastest-growing one: Hispanic truck owners. Chantel Lenard, U.S. marketing director for Ford, tells Marketing Daily that the Hispanic-market ads will be in both English and Spanish. "We are fortunate that F-150 has been the best-selling truck for 37 years, so great from a geographic and customer base, but we see a growing base in the Hispanic market, so we will have unique creative." The Fox media buy includes Fox Deportes and MundoFox.
A digital video series, "F-150 Tough Science," is part of the pro-sports tie-in. It features ESPN “Sport Science” creator John Brenkus, who looks more deeply at the technology, including the military-grade aluminum-alloy body and high-strength steel frame. Lenard points out that there is also pre-game content documenting former New York Giants player and "Good Morning America" host Michael Strahan's visit to the Ford truck plant (with Fox Sports' robot Cleatus).
The country music element involves long-time Ford truck partner Toby Keith -- whose concert tours have for years involved Ford branding and products. Lenard says the opportunity with the new launch is a another big integration with Keith's upcoming tour. "He tours every year and we have been with him for so long, and each time integration has been a key opportunity as well."
Lenard points out that the campaign has been going on for months, with digital content around a three-pronged product-testing strategy: “We Test” at Ford's labs; “They Test,” at fleet customer sites (blind tests, where the fleet customers didn't know the trucks were the new, aluminum-body vehicles); and “You Test,” a consumer program. She says pre-launch video content on the truck has already gotten some 58 million views, and over 750,000 consumers have configured the truck online, "And that's a record number for us, so there has been strong consumer demand early on," she says.
"The challenge is to show all the consumer benefits you can gain. When you think lightweight, you think fuel efficiency, but there's so much more to talk about with aluminum, in terms of best-in-class. When we take the weight out, we put capability in. We know that the strongest consumer needs are durability and capability."
As for the mobile aspect of the campaign, Lenard says multi-screening around sports is a big driver. "This customer over-indexes for live sports, and while watching TV, he is also on mobile. We want to integrate the two so when they see a TV ad, they go to digital to learn more." She says the company is also working on an app strategy.