Wow. I don’t know if Ford is broadcasting this particular commercial [Ed: They are, although possibly not in the Detroit area], but it’s part of a series of ads that Fred Goss directed for Company Productions. The ads were set up by recruiting recent Ford buyers to come in and answer some market research questions. Those Ford owners did not know that they would be walking into a press conference with, apparently, real journalists [Ed: Huh?] asking them about their purchase. Company Productions released a video on the making of the ads. In this particular case Ford got lucky when a F-150 owner named Chris sat behind the microphone. Answering a reporter’s question, “Was buying American important to you?” Chris came up with something that advertising copy writers dream of writing.
He took that softball question (Chris’ F-150 was parked next to the dias at the press conference. About 94% of full size pickup buyers buy American brands.) and hit it out of the park:
I wasn’t going to buy another car that was bailed out by our government. I was going to buy it from a manufacturer that stands on their own, win lose or draw. That’s what America’s about, it’s taking the chance to succeed and understanding that when you fail you’ve got to pick yourself up and go back to work. Ford is that company for me.
It seems to me that this is about as blunt as Ford has been on the topic of their domestic competitors’ bailouts and that it is the first time Ford has explicitly used GM and Chrysler’s bailouts as a marketing tactic. The ad hits so many notes and because it’s a real person, not an actor, it resonates well. I also think it’s interesting that Ford and their ad agency included Chris’ reference to Ford’s “fail” in the past. This is the first time that I can recall that any American car company has at least implicitly acknowledged in some kind of advertisement that their previous products were not great.