Ford has been putting "real people" in many of its ads for a while now, including the "Swap Your Ride" subjects hobnobbing with Mike Rowe and the actual Ford owners who were peppered with questions by fake reporters in the brand's controversial staged press conference stunt.
Now positioning their own workers as real people, the brand's marketers are now putting put actual Ford employees into ads promoting the 2013 Ford Escape crossover-utility vehicle. The campaign aims to show how Ford's people are demonstrating their internal drive to "Go Further," the tagline centerpiece of Ford's new global brand positioning. Ford also is launching a new web-only video comedy series behind the nameplate as well.
"We don't have a blanket strategy now to always do real people in ads, but in a lot of cases we're finding it does work," Scott Kelly, Ford's communications manager, told brandchannel. "We look at it campaign by campaign. Where it does work, it's all about being as authentic as possible."
In the case of Escape, the ads feature four different designers or engineers who have actually worked on aspects of the new vehicle. Ford engineer Vince Mahe, for instance, "grew up on two continents and noticed that wherever you go, people have their hands full — but their feet free," as the commercial above says. Then it reveals that Mahe helped design the hands-free lift gate of Escape that opens when it senses a foot waggle beneath the rear bumper.
Another commercial features Jennifer Brace, an interface engineer who has worked to make the MyFord Touch system in the vehicle as user-friendly and eager-to-please as a well-trained dog would be. Putting her human face on the technology may be especially timely given renewed criticism of the MyFord Touch infotainment system by influential Consumer Reports.
Returning to branded entertainment, later this month Ford will launch Escape My Life, a web sitcom series directed by Ruben Fleisher of Zombieland fame. It will feature stand-up comedian Natasha Leggero and actor Jo Truglio (of Superbad and Pineapple Express).
"We are not talking at" consumers with the series, said Brock Winger, digital marketing manager for Ford, in a press release, "we are showing them the Escape and how it is used in daily life." Escape My Life will run for eight episodes on its own YouTube channel, as well as Hulu, AOL, MSN/Wonderwall, Glam Media, Tumblr, Facebook and other online outlets.
Ford also is not targeting only Millennials with the new series, which follows last spring's Saturday-night reality series on NBC, Escape Routes. GenY-ers are also "among the targets" for the vehicle, Kelly said. "The key target for this launch is a bit older."
America's best-selling SUV hit a bump in July when Ford recalled the model over engine fire fears. Naturally, the automaker is keen to move past that and look ahead:
"Since arriving in dealerships this summer, Escape has been the fastest-turning vehicle on Ford lots. More than half of Escapes sold have been the SEL or Titanium series, with nearly half of all buyers opting for the hands-free liftgate and 40 percent choosing the panoramic Vista Roof®. Sixty percent of Americans shopping for a vehicle this year will look at either a midsize car or small SUV, making Escape part of one of the most cross-shopped and fastest-growing segments in the auto industry."
Now it's hoping that its own employees, along with