In the short life of Doug the sock puppet, the orange mascot for the Focus that Ford introduced in March, that automaker has had him engage in all sorts of fantasy scenes — because, after all, Doug is an orange puppet. In watching the online-only video campaign so far, viewers who already have suspended their disbelief, because they're watching a smart-alecky orange puppet, are even further willing to suspend their disbelief as Doug variously saves a life, schmoozes with human females, and takes over a Ford "press conference."
Now, however — and rather ironically — it's a turn to a sort of realism that may be indicating the Doug campaign is running out of steam.
In a new cross-promotion with Source Interlink Media, publisher of Automobile magazine, Doug and his handler, "John," played by actor John Ross Bowie, visit the offices of the buff book and film a series of five spots. Doug, who is voiced by Paul F. Tompkins, variously sits behind the desk of editor Jean Jennings, bores a "staff meeting" with a PowerPoint presentation, and hits on a female staffer in a Focus — you get the picture.
The videos, exclusive to the magazine's website, may be a boon for Automobile, whose facilities enjoy plenty of attention. The staff gets lots of camera time but are required to do little acting and speak few lines. But does the latest campaign really do anything more for Doug?
Doug's spots started out, in a clever viral campaign, testing all sorts of conventions in automotive marketing just as Ford was pushing the envelope in social media. But in the fifth and final spot of this new campaign, as they're listed on Automobile's site, the last scene may be telling. Does Ford really have to resort to using fake orange-puppet vomit to get attention?
Still, a Brainzooming blog post this week praises the character and campaign for pushing the envelope, so it's all part and parcel of Doug's outrageous personality.