By on June 8, 2008

I know that's waaaay too easy a headline, but how else would you describe this ad for the Ford Flex, launched this weekend? The TV spot gives the crossover a SteadyCamaroscopy and a 360-degree website spin (or eight) to the tune of the song "Son gonna rise" by Citizen Cope. So the unique selling point is… style. I mean it must be, as there's no strapline revealing its Unique Selling Point, no voiceover announcing its arrival, no nothin'. Ah, but there's another ad [click here]. This one touts the Flex as an "agile, 24mpg crossover," then proclaims– both in narrative and in mescaline-tinged imagery– its drug-like ability to warp-your mind. "Suddenly, everything looks a little different." In fact, "Discover Flex" is as trippy a tagline as I've heard in some time. Like, wow Scoob. 

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36 Comments on “Ford TV Ads Sell Flex Appeal...”


  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    It’s a station wagon, dammit!

    I have seen sleeker bricks.

  • avatar
    bluecon

    But it is a very well done station wagon built as an addition in a plant already building the Edge and the MKX.
    Mulally understands the market and if he can pull Ford through the short term they are positioned to be the survivor of the Big 2.8 race to the bottom.

  • avatar
    Rday

    If detroit wants to woo customers, then they need to concentrate on vehicles that can get at least 30mpg on the highway. Like the old XB or maybe the new Cube. The flex is just another overweight mild gas pig. Still expensive to drive and since most will probably get used around town, the mileage is not that great. Again, another vehicle that was designed for gas prices in the last century. Must Detroit always be behind the curve when it comes to what customers want/need? Bring back the Old XB. It has the same looks as the flex, alot of room, and gets over 30mpg.

  • avatar
    50merc

    Psychedelic photography, ear-grating music and a total absence of information about why one should buy a Flex: who the hell thought these ads were a good idea? When Mulally finds out, he should tell the approver to drop by Personnel first thing Monday.

    The Flex has a lot of promise (though Rday is right, it’s a bad time to introduce a large vehicle) but Ford needs to communicate with those who’d like “a very well done station wagon,” not teenagers who wear baggy pants that display the top six inches of underwear.

  • avatar
    dwford

    I like that ad. It has a very “Apple” air to it. It’s nice to see Ford using younger music also. It always irritated me that Cadillac was trying to lure younger buyers using Led Zeppelin music. And I hate those “van god” Odyssey commercials. Older people will buy a younger persons car – witness Scion – but a younger person won’t be caught dead in an old person’s car.

    Yes Ford is selling style with the Flex. The utilitarian approach didn’t work so well for the Freestyle/Taurus X. Of course, there was no style to promote anyway…

    For many SUV refugees, the Flex’s 24mpg highway will seem like a dream compared to their V8 Tahoes and Expeditions.

  • avatar
    rtz

    The proportions are just wrong. I’d love to see their demographics and their target market for this. Who do they think will be buying it? What’s special about it besides the way it looks? A total flop if I ever saw one. I bet they sleep uneasy at night because of the unknown prospects of this vehicle.

    Are mini vans hot sellers? Are SUV’s the in thing? Are crossovers the hot product right now?

    This is a situation of Scion has some box vehicles and Nissan will soon have one, so Ford didn’t want to be left out and built one too. How well do PT Cruisers and HHR’s sell?

    Anyone who grew up in the 1980’s during the station wagon phase(right before the minivans) will not want anything to do with a Ford Flex.

    Ford Flex = http://blog.muchmusic.com/thenewmusic/archives/images/station%20wagon.jpg

  • avatar
    hwyhobo

    Good looking wagon (albeit a bit tall and heavy). It needs a better (more fuel-efficient) power plant. Perhaps one from Escape Hybrid?

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    Yet another car that looked great as a concept, but somehow got hit with the ugly stick on its way to the customers.

    Maybe they should stop doing concepts that can’t be manufactured without changing them. I think it’s become a waste of time, a luxury no longer affordable.

    They need to have a manufacturing nazi in the design studio who nixes all the crap they can’t actually build before it makes into a concept car.

  • avatar
    Richard Chen

    At 4400+lbs, the Flex is up 500lbs from the Taurus X. That’s a whole lot of weight for that boxy style, the 2nd gen Scion xB is 3100lbs.

    @rtz: I think the intended buyers of the xB and Cube, (sub-)compact vehicles costing well under $20k probably won’t be cross-shopping the Flex. The other way around? in the current economic climate – perhaps, in the same way that Frank Williams pitted the GMC Acadia vs. the Toyota RAV4.

  • avatar
    Pahaska

    I have a hard time believing that a thinking person in Texas (Arizona, etc.) would buy a vehicle with those huge holes in the roof. I have pretty much given up on even conventional small sunroofs. I took a look back at my previous car with sun roof and I realized that the shade had been closed for practically the entire time I owned the car. My present Azera is sans sunroof.

  • avatar
    dwford

    Ok, it may look like a box, but the Flex IS A TOTALLY DIFFERENT VEHICLE from the xB. The Flex is a full size 7 passenger crossover, not a subcompact. Totally different markets. Why some people want to compare them is beyond me.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    A prayer has been answered! Ford is going to build Volvo 240 wagons again …. too bad about the new name though :).

  • avatar
    amac

    Yeah that’s right Ford, keep distracting the viewer with cool camera angles, spastic movements and segmented images. If anyone actually gets a good look at the thing, they’ll see how fugly it is and not even set foot in your dealerships. It seems as though Ford’s bean counters and marketers had WAY too much input in this design. It looks like a Mini with a case of gigantism.

  • avatar
    P71_CrownVic

    bluecon:
    But it is a very well done station wagon built as an addition in a plant already building the Edge and the MKX.
    Mulally understands the market and if he can pull Ford through the short term they are positioned to be the survivor of the Big 2.8 race to the bottom.

    I don’t see how anybody can praise Big Al when he spends millions of dollars that Ford really doesn’t have on a seven-seat station wagon…when they already have a very capable, and well liked seven-seat station wagon on the market already. How does that make ANY financial sense at all? Wouldn’t it have been cheaper to actually advertise the Taurus X for a year or so and give it a chance in today’s market?

    Oh well, at least the ads are better. Anyone remember the disgusting “divorced Dad” ads that Ford used when they were advertising the Freestyle?

  • avatar
    P71_CrownVic

    The Flex is a full size 7 passenger crossover…

    Quit drinking the Blue Oval Kool-Aid…it’s a Station Wagon. And not to mention a complete joke of a “minivan replacement”.

  • avatar
    guyincognito

    I thought it was a cool ad. The Flex does have style and creating that image could help sales. In any case, it is good to see that they are at least advertising it. I still can’t fathom what happened with the Taurus X. No one ever knew that car existed. I’d bet it could have done quite well, if not better than the Flex, had it been properly marketed and given a little more style.

  • avatar
    unleashed

    Yep, it looks like an oversized, stretched out mini… Another flop in the making, IMO.

  • avatar
    hwyhobo

    Honestly, the only thing in this market that makes something a flop or a success, provided adequate usability, is fuel efficiency. Chevy Tahoe is gorgeous, but its sales are in the tank. Toyota Prius is not exactly endearing to everyone (although I don’t mind its looks), and it’s selling faster than Toyota can make it. Style is overrated today.

    If Ford can come up with a more fuel efficient power plant (25/35), it will sell. The current mpg ratings are mediocre, though.

  • avatar
    NickR

    Gardiner Westbound, you don’t know how right you are about ‘bricks’. From your name, I can guess you live near west Toronto…take a spin out to Oakville and you can see thousands of them outside the Oakville plant. They make a 70s era Suburban look like an AC Cobra.

  • avatar
    Voice of Sweden

    It’s clear to me now that Ford will be the true American Survivor.

  • avatar
    seoultrain

    I like the look of the Flex, but that commercial makes it look hideous. Fish-eye lenses make everything ugly. Harsh lighting makes everything seem dull. Constant rotation and fading in and out of black keeps you from actually getting a feel for the car’s stance. Put this car in motion on the road at night under some street lighting in some zoomed-out shots and people will be all over it, wagon or not.

  • avatar
    SunnyvaleCA

    If Ford can come up with a more fuel efficient power plant (25/35), it will sell. The current mpg ratings are mediocre, though.

    The Flex weighs about 4500 pounds. It is 5.6 feet tall and 6.3 feet wide. 25/35 isn’t in the cards, at least for a conventional gasoline-powered engine with a USA-friendly amount of power.

    Perhaps gigantic “light” trucks aren’t the wave of the future for general transportation. Maybe people should have a small, efficient vehicle designed for on-road use for most of their transportation needs and only use a huge vehicle for occasional hauling. In that case, buy the behemoth based on deeply discounted purchase price (i.e.: few-year-old SUV or pickup) and don’t worry about 13 MPG if you keep the miles down to 1000 or fewer a year. The Flex has the worst attributes of both: not all the cheap and certainly not efficient.

  • avatar
    Brendino

    DId anyone miss the obvious absence of the Ford logo at the end of the spot?

    Hope they caught the badge on the car.

    Other than that I think these are two great ads. They sell the product, which Ford often doesn’t do, and they sell it as stylish and functional.

    Amazing what you can do when you’ve got the product to show off…

  • avatar
    umterp85

    Come on Robert….lets see the :30 , :15 & full marketing campaign that hit upon intro. You know and I know these are nothing but teaser creative to generate buzz. When all ads & full marketing campaign hit the air—fair discussion–if it sucks—I’ll be the first to say so and point the finger right at Farley…this is his baby.

  • avatar
    mikeolan

    What’s the expected fuel economy on the Flex? And what’s with all of the people comparing this to a Scion xB? This is a completely different class of vehicle.

    Barring some major flaw, I hope it does well in the marketplace. If you’ve got to schlep passengers and don’t want to drive a pig of an SUV or Minivan, this looks to be a cool and fun alternative. As a current fan of the outgoing Subaru Forester, I welcome the embracing of the form factor, albeit for a larger vehicle.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    “In that case, buy the behemoth based on deeply discounted purchase price (i.e.: few-year-old SUV or pickup) and don’t worry about 13 MPG if you keep the miles down to 1000 or fewer a year.”

    We have some acreage and I have an old 1989 F150 for just that purpose. Luckily I only buy gas for it three or four times a year, because the most recent fill-up cost me $96! Using such a vehicle as an every day car would put a big hurt on our finances.

  • avatar
    yankinwaoz

    In the ad, when the car is viewed straight on from the side, it looks EXACTLY like a mid-sized pickup truck with a shell on the bed.

    I wonder if there are shutters or shades for those sunroofs? Otherwise, it will be mighty toasty inside on a hot sunny day.

  • avatar
    chamar

    Not everyone cares for 30MPG …

    especially if you have 4~6 or more family members to haul around.

    I do think its an excellent product, away from the anti-hip of Minivans, but still close the much needed utility for 4~6+ passenger family

  • avatar
    shaker

    I dunno, with the spike of gas to $4 a gallon, buyers might skip over the Flex on their downsizing trend — the “city” mileage is starting to become a major selling point, as consumers “wise-up”, while automakers still tout highway MPG in their ads. 4500 lbs – to haul ass, it’ll need two trips.

  • avatar
    gfen

    I think we’re gonna see alot of landings at the wrong airport as carmakers try to catch up with the quickly evolving taste. Taking its weight/mileage with that view in mind, its an interesting and different car and these ads fit the creature. Its there to create buzz, to tease and show a little something about what it might be, not to sell us on its features. In that regards, it certainly beats flying cars and trucks on building ledges.

    As for the Flex: Why not? Its different. It set apart from alot of what we’ve seen. Yes, it takes the Japanese box design down the American supersizing trend, but again, barring the release time, who says that would’ve been so bad if we weren’t spending so much to fuel up. As the owner of another rolling box (Element), I can’t describe how much usable space is inside something when you don’t play to the swooping, and space wasting, curves of “elegant” design.

  • avatar
    serpico

    This is the Mini Cooper for the rest of us.

  • avatar
    geeber

    Ford had a production Flex at the Carlisle All-Ford Nationals this weekend. The vehicle is sharp and distinctive, and has a very nice interior (the seats are fantastic).

    Entry and exit are very easy – better than most sedans (no need to step down) and any SUV (no need to step UP).

    Hate to break it to the naysayers, but this vehicle is going to be a winner…

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    It’s a nice-looking car, but it’s still the wrong vehicle at the wrong time. The point of crossovers, from the perspective of the manufacturers, seems to be to find some way to sell vehicles with a high profit margin, just like Toyota and Honda manage to do.

    It’s a nice thought, but Toyota and Honda manage this by virtue of having spent years developing their market image. Ford will have some trouble cracking that and, meanwhile, they’ve set themselves up for Freestyle 2.0: too high a price and not enough utility. Yes, it’s flashy, but it’s also a seven-seater, and people who are image-conscious and want a vehicle of this size won’t consider a Ford, while those who aren’t will just buy an Odyssey or Sienna anyway.

    GM has the same problem: nice as the Lambdas are, they’re not selling to people who’d otherwise buy a Pilot/Highlander, let alone an RX/MDX/X5/Q7, and the traditional GM van buyer just flat out doesn’t have the money, not when you could have gotten an Uplander or Montana for a lot less than the Acadia will set you back, and get better mileage to boot.

    On the other hand, I could be wrong and maybe people will accept a premium Ford. The Edge did reasonably well, though it remains to be seen if it can sustain it.

  • avatar
    incitatus

    A crossover between a brick and a Ford VP square head.
    The most appaling car/truck/van/suv/bus or whatever it is, to date. Period.

  • avatar
    whatdoiknow1

    OK, so now we have a Super sized Expedition, an extra large sized Explorer, a large sized Taurus X, smaller sized (but still large) Edge, and now Ford is adding another large sized Flex.

    Please tell me exactly how many large sized 5 door wagons does Ford really expect to sell in our wagon averse culture here in the USA?

    Did I miss something or does the average American family now have 5 children instead of 2.5????

    The irony is that just in time for the fuel crunch Ford does NOT have a Focus 5 wagon or 3/5 door hatchback anymore.

    Go Figure!!!!!!!

  • avatar
    Busbodger

    Looks SO much like a Range Rover (toy) that my son has.

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