|The new 2003 Expedition swims with the sharks in a new commercial.
Auto marketers traditionally hold advertising until dealerships have a supply of new vehicles.
Ford Expedition's marketing manager, Doug Walczak, said the unusual move was designed to create awareness for the all-new version and its all-new features. The actual vehicle won't be available in showrooms until an undefined date "later this spring," he said.
The campaign starting Monday has an estimated value of $20 million and includes a trio of 30-second spots from WPP Group's J. Walter Thompson, Detroit, several three-page print executions, outdoor and Internet ads. The effort continues throughout the summer.
Chantel Lenard, SUV group brand manager at Ford Division, said the new version
One spot demonstrates the Safety Canopy system and dual front air bags by showing the SUV underwater surrounded by attacking sharks.
George Piliouras, executive creative director at JWT, said the vehicle was indeed underwater, in San Diego, with the sharks. But the sharks were electronic models, not real or created by computer.
Another spot was shot on the deck of an aircraft carrier in a rain storm to demonstrate Expedition's independent rear suspension and steering control in a winding course marked by cones. Mr. Piliouras said during the shoot no Expeditions slipped off the deck 80 feet above the waters off Corpus Christi, Texas.
Ford Chairman William Ford, who is starring in Ford Division's current brand ads that broke in February and in a new Mustang spot, doesn't appear in any Expedition ads.
Ford sold 36,571 Expeditions in the first quarter of 2002 vs. 46,341 a year ago, says AdAge.com sibling publication Automotive News. Ford Motor Co. has regrouped and is cutting costs after losing $5 billion last year.