Ford has called an audible on its New Year’s Day college football marketing in a move to promote mask-wearing. The automaker will dedicate a significant portion of its media buy during Jan. 1 bowl games to a new ad called “Finish Strong,” which promotes mask-wearing and other safety measures, while foreshadowing better days ahead as vaccines distribution ramps up.
The spot is narrated by Ford spokesman Bryan Cranston and was created by filmmaker Peter Berg. It will air during the Citrus Bowl on ABC and the Peach Bowl, Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl on ESPN, as well as during Fox NFL games on Jan. 3. Ford had originally intended to use its airtime during the high-profile sporting events to plug vehicles, including its top-selling F-150 pickup truck. But the automaker opted to use half of its buys for “Finish Strong.”
“We’re in this together and Ford’s goal since the pandemic started has been to try to help save lives,” Kumar Galhotra, Ford’s president for its Americas and International Markets Group. “While many are weary from the challenges 2020 has thrown at us, now is the time for us to pull together, protect each other and finish strong until COVID-19 vaccines arrive more broadly. Lives are on the line.”
In a press release the company cites information from the University of Washington’s School of Medicine that suggests if more Americans embraced COVID safety protocols, including wearing masks, that 50,000 or more lives could be saved between now and the end of March.
“The COVID pandemic has tested us all in ways we could not have imagined a year ago,” Berg stated in the press release. “People are weary, beat down, and it would be easy to let our guard down now. But we have to keep fighting for each other; we’re almost there. As we enter 2021, we wanted to help inspire Americans to come together and save lives until the vaccines arrive in numbers. We need to finish strong. We got this.”
The ad includes scenes of front-line workers and COVID victims, including a survivor named John Williams, 68, from Kansas City, whom the company states in the press release “beat COVID-19 after 20 days on and off a ventilator.”
Ford has emerged as a corporate leader in the fight against COVID. It has used its plants to make 20 million face shields, 50,000 ventilators and more than 32,000 powered air-purifying respirators in collaboration with 3M, while donating more than 55 million face masks to nonprofit organizations.
Berg earlier this year filmed front-line workers, including those affiliated with the United Auto Workers union, making personal protective equipment for a short documentary called “On the Line.”