In an edgy new push for its Fusion sedan, Ford Motor Co. is running a viral "mockumentary" film series about a real band that would give the Maytag man fits-it smashes out cacophonous tunes by smashing up clothes dryers, kitchen ranges and what looks suspiciously like an outboard motor.
By linking with the Norwegian group, Hurra Torpedo, conservative Ford hopes to reach 25-to-35-year-olds for its new Ford Fusion sedan. As part of the promotion, the marque is sponsoring the band's U.S. tour and running an online sweepstakes to win the red Fusion driven by the band on the road.
The films, half reality and half fiction, feature some actors such as the film's purported "director" Pip Simon (described on the site as founder and president of Kankakee's "In the Kan" Film Festival and creator of "The Making of this Movie" and "The Making of the Making of This Movie"). The films can be seen at thecrushingblow.tv and accessed from the three-man band's site, hurratorpedo.com. The band plays itself.
"The episodic storyline was created to speak to the target market's irreverent and ironic sense of humor and includes highs and lows of the tour," said Linda Perry-Lube, marketing-communications manager of Ford Division. The goal is to reach younger consumers that wouldn't consider a Ford.
WPP Group's JWT Detroit tapped Kirt Gunn & Associates to write the mockumentary films, produced by Radical Media.
Ford quietly launched the site and tour in late November. According to the most recent statistics available, the marketer said The Crushing Blow site attracted 535,000 unique visitors, each averaging 17 minutes on the site by mid-December.
Research showed that 85% of respondents found the content "very appealing," with more than half saying they plan to seek more information about Ford. The films, dubbed on the site as a "rockumentary," are mainly capturing men between the ages of 18 and 34.
The automaker has pulled out all the marketing stops for Fusion's launch and pre-launch, including free flash-mob concerts promoted online, a video game and Web site co-branded with car guru FunkMaster Flex to reach urban hipsters. There's also a site for Asian-Americans featuring the stories of four nightclubbers and a Hispanic-targeted site with a custom music-mixing feature.
Ford Motor increased U.S. online ad spending across all its brands by 22% in the first nine months of 2005 to $43.5 million, according to TNS Media Intelligence. In that same period, Ford cut spending in broadcast TV by $28 million to $325 million and increased cable TV spending by $47 million to $121 million.