The first TV spot began airing on Sunday night. The spot, and a second one to launch this month, were directed by music video and film auteur Mark Romanek. They rely on computer-generated graphics to show the vehicle in abstract backgrounds with a strong focus on the vehicle's parallel body-panel lines, darkened-glass skylights, interior vastness and amenities.
The ads feature music by R&B artist Santogold. One spot shows the car swooping through an elaboration of an urban landscape. Voiceover: "So in charges this agile 24-mpg crossover, and suddenly everything looks different."
Print and outdoor ads for Flex launch this weekend as well. The online component of the effort comprises computer-generated short movies focusing on things like safety features, interior design, and engineering. All four feature voiceovers from chief designer Richard Gresens and chief engineer Gary Boes. The digital animations will be featured on fordvehicles.com in mid-June. They also will be included in online media.
Usha Raghavachari, Ford's crossover marketing communications manager, says the campaign is starting regionally with coastal markets, and in general, markets in which SUV and crossover sales are strong. "[The SUV category] is where we think we will get a lot of customers," she says.
According to the latest data from NADAguides.com, a vehicle shopping and comparison site, interest in crossovers has increased 73.5% through May this year, although last month interest declined 5.3%. The shopping site measures in-market vehicle shoppers at its Web site, who accessed pricing information for a specific vehicle.
The ads are also contrarian, avoiding any suggestion that the vehicle is an SUV. "We have a number of SUVs already in showrooms, and one of the things we were keen to do with Flex was position it as an alternative," says Raghavachari. She says the company's market research suggests the vehicle will appeal to young single men and families with two or three kids. "We were very deliberate to celebrate the product and personality of brand, rather than focus on a specific demographic. We are launching Flex, not the target customer--we are looking for an attitudinal target."
The vehicle, which seats seven, has a lot of extras: if you get the six-seat version the car comes with a refrigerator/freezer between the second-row seats. It also has the Ford/Microsoft telematics program, Sync, and it's one of two Ford vehicles to get the first Sirius Travel Link product, which among other things tells drivers real-time gasoline prices at local gas stations.