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A trio of 30-second commercials and print ads in USA Today break tomorrow nationally in advance of the Sept. 4 ad blitz that will run for the next six months. The launch ads for the full-size pickup carry the theme "Only this truck earned the right to be the next F-150." The ads retain the long-standing tagline for Ford trucks, "Built Ford Tough," while incorporating the car line's tagline, "If you haven't looked at Ford lately, look again."
Ford wants to maintain the F-150's sales leadership: The pickup has been the nation's best-selling full-size pickup for 26 consecutive years and the No. 1 selling model, car or truck for 21 years, said Steve Lyons, Ford Division president.
When asked whether an ad campaign can make or break a product launch, Mr. Lyons said the blitz "has a lot to do with how you get started." The executions have to do a good job of communicating the product and also create awareness.
WPP Group's J. Walter Thompson, Detroit, handles advertising for Ford.
"We wanted to generate some anticipation and excitement that something big is coming," said Rich Stoddart, who oversees advertising as marketing communications manager at Ford.
While the teaser ads show the truck in more traditional situations, like mud and splashing in water, JWT's Tom Cordner, co-president and chief creative officer, described the launch executions as "very simple, very clean."
JWT created a slew of executions, including four TV commercials, 16 multipage magazine ads, online ads and outdoor. Both TV and print focus on a single product feature. One of the 30-second TV spots shows the truck's frame being tested at Ford's Arizona Proving Grounds, then explains how the tough frame gives the pickup the segment's highest payload. A three-page print magazine ad discusses carriage bolts. The ad copy goes on to say Ford is the only marketer to use the longest and thickest bolts for the heaviest payload capacity.
Mr. Cordner said carriage bolts "don't seem like a big story, but it's a way to tell a bigger story" about the new pickup.
The campaign is a departure for Ford in the truck category. Past F-150 commercials showed the truck being used by muscular men at work sites. But Toyota Motor Sales USA adopted that look in the 2003 model year for its new full-size pickup, the Tundra, in ads from Publicis Groupe's Saatchi & Saatchi, Torrance, Calif.
It's no coincidence that Ford timed its Sept. 4 launch with the start of the National Football League season. Ford will have a major presence as an advertiser on TV broadcasts and as all Fox NFL Sunday pre-game broadcasts. The automaker is also advertising heavily during college football game broadcasts. But Mr. Lyons said the media buy won't reach its height until January.