Ford is both narrowcasting and broadcasting its brand in new ways with the opening of its first FordHub experiential center—in the Westfield World Trade Center in New York City, where it tested a video mural last summer—and in releasing its pre-kickoff TV ad for Super Bowl Sunday that will reach America’s largest annual audience.
The automaker typically takes out a big TV ad just before the Big Game, not during it, and that tradition will go unchanged this year just before the start of Super Bowl LI on Sunday. Only this time, Ford won’t be touting the latest built-tough version of its F Series pickup trucks or the latest iteration in its SUV fleet. Instead, Ford will be advertising the future.
In a 90-second spot that employs the “Go Further” positioning that Ford has used for a few years, the brand will indeed go further than ever before. It’s laying out a vision of a future (narrated by actor Bryan Cranston) that is based not just on selling cars, trucks and utility vehicles to individuals, companies and government entities but also on mobility services—including ride-sharing, bike-sharing and self-driving cars—and its vision for the City of Tomorrow.
“Those close to the auto industry know what we are doing at Ford about mobility services, but those who aren’t close to it may not be thinking about Ford in that way yet,” Chantel Lenard, the Ford Motor Company’s executive director of US marketing, told brandchannel. “The ad shows things that we’re working on now all the way into the future. That’s how we’re connecting the pieces—through advertising.”
“It’s a massive opportunity to show this ad right before the Super Bowl, a unique opportunity to share what we’re thinking about the future,” added Lenard. “Customers are counting on us to think not only of solutions for today but also for the future and for making their lives simpler and better.”
The campaign showcases moments in which people have become “stuck” in life, including a skier stuck on a chair lift suspended high over trees and the ski hill, kids whose basketball gets stuck on the rim and a driver whose car gets stuck in a snowbank. “No one likes being stuck,” the voiceover says.
The automaker has the solution, of course: “Ford is developing new ways to help you through life … faster … easier … better … today and tomorrow.” The characters get out of their predicaments, some—such as the snowbound motorist whose car is towed to traction by a Ford pickup truck—with the explicit help of Ford products. Ford assists include someone on a Ford-branded bicycle and an urban denizen who gets picked up by a Ford-branded van.
“We’re going further so you can,” the ad concludes. “Ride sharing … Electric vehicles … Bike sharing … Self-driving cars.”
Ford’s pivot to become a leader in the burgeoning mobility-services space, as well as in self-driving cars and electric vehicles, reflects a spirit that dates back to Henry Ford himself. “It’s part of our DNA to think of transportation solutions for the masses and better and safer ways of getting around, so we need to be in that space,” Lenard said.
And no less than Elena Ford, great-great-granddaughter of Henry Ford himself—and the Ford Motor Company’s vice president, Global Dealer and Consumer Experience—describes the automaker’s first FordHub as “a place designed to spark questions and curiosity. This isn’t a store or a dealer – it’s a place for participation and creativity. We want people to have fun while engaging in conversation about the future of transportation.”
Ford also commented to brandchannel that the new Ford Game Day spot “would put a smile on his face. He was a pioneer of innovation and he was always one who challenged convention, and was always forward-thinking,” she observed. “He was always trying to look around the corner and think ahead. He would be thrilled that we’re staying core to who we are and that we’re innovating and progressing a great consumer experience.”
In that regard, on Monday Ford opened its first FordHub interactive brand experience studio in the Westfield World Trade Center in New York City. FordHub is designed to highlight the ways in which Ford is evolving into an auto and mobility company and to inspire visitors to think about the future of transportation via imagination and dialogue.
Visitors can explore a world map to see how near-term mobility advancements will play a pivotal role in the City of Tomorrow, a futuristic exhibit that Ford unveiled at the 2017 North American International Auto Show in Detroit this month. There’s also a mobility map that “tracks the pulse of New York City” with a dashboard of real-time traffic information for commuters, including trains, ferries and alerts.
In the Last Mile Challenge experience, guests stand on “wobbleboards” and race through a futuristic world using every means of transportation,” as Ford stated in a press release, from autonomous cars to e-bikes, earning tokens for each mobility decision they make. In another attraction, guests use a virtual reality headset to “build” a Mustang atop the Empire State Building.
“We are embracing the local community with this,” Ford said. “We really want to talk to New Yorkers and get their feedback.”