Ford Motor Co. plans to convert buzz from a 60-second TV spot in which the Ford name is neither shown nor mentioned into a global marketing campaign to capture consideration from untapped audiences.
"Go Further" will replace "Drive One" and, in Europe, "Feel the Difference," as Ford pursues a strategy to change consumers' "preconceived notions" about the brand and its reputation for quality, said Jim Farley, group VP-global marketing, sales and service, during a press conference Monday at the company's headquarters in Dearborn, Mich.
"We're not trying to tell people what the brand will be, we're just documenting what the company already is ," Mr. Farley said about the video, which launched two weeks ago. It was created by Ford's agency, Team Detroit.
"Five years ago, if you'd done [an ad like] that , people wouldn't know what to do," Mr. Farley said. But thanks to social media and search functions, he added, "that kind of curiosity, and reward in finding out, is an important part of the campaign."
The unbranded idea, which may migrate to future advertising as Ford prepares to launch the new Escape and Fusion in the second half, "interrupted people, surprised them," said Matt VanDyke, Ford's director-marketing communications. "We really hoped a couple of million people might find it online and pass it along, but it's had 3.4 million views." It was also No. 1 last week on Ad Age 's Viral Video chart.
The spot is intentionally aimed at audiences on the East and West coasts, where "the crossover and sedan segment is driven," Mr. Farley said. "Making improvements to our loyal owner base would have been nice, but that doesn't give us the opportunity to seek something new."
When Mr. VanDyke was asked if he thought that the direction might be perceived as too targeted, he said that "it's a tactic to get noticed and inspire the conversation ... not a critique of education and intelligence in different markets."
Martin Sorrell, CEO of WPP, the holding company that runs Team Detroit, sat in on the chat via video link from the U.K. and said that legacy media, especially free-to-air TV, was not in danger of extinction.Viewership is rising "and print is alive and well, although it is the medium most challenged," Mr. Sorrell said. "We know consumers are spending about a third of their time online, and clients around the world are spending about 19% of their budgets on that . Ford has been in the vanguard."
On a related matter, Mr. VanDyke said that staffing of a Team Detroit office in New York that will primarily serve the Lincoln account is under way, with 50 people hired so far. "We'll have announcements this summer, and they'll probably even come up with a name. Martin, whaddaya think?"
"I certainly hope so," Mr. Sorrell said.