Wednesday, May 18, 2011

When Did Ford Become So Funny?

I just spent the last 25 minutes or so watching the YouTube videos with Doug, Ford's new spokespuppet for the 2012 Focus.  I saw a commercial on TV the other day, and thought Ford might be making a mistake with this radical idea that might ultimately flop.  But after watching a few more videos on YouTube (that were far better than the commercial I saw), I couldn't get enough. I want more Doug videos.  In no way would I suggest he have his own TV show (like the disaster of a program the Geico cavemen had), but I can honestly say Ford has changed my perception on the Focus.  In the past, the Focus would not have even been on my radar when buying a car.  Now, I can potentially see it coming over the horizon. Not quite in my driveway, but getting closer.  These videos are far more than just a puppet and a guy bantering back and forth with some well timed jokes and bits about car features that are new to this year's model.  It's the beginning of a campaign to mold the image of a car that people were beginning to forget about.

Until the this economic recession hit, it seemed like Ford was losing it's focus (no pun intended).  Their cars weren't innovative anymore, they weren't bringing anything to the table that foreign carmakers weren't already doing better, and they had that annoying turn signal noise around 2007 (seriously, what was that?)  Then Detroit car companies started getting their act together. They stopped coasting along on the notion that Americans would always buy American, and they started trying again.  It began with making cars that American's would truly want to buy, but then it had to end with creating an image for their vehicles that Americans would embrace.  Chrysler is hitting out the park with their gritty Detroit, Eminem, "Made in Detroit" ads.  Now Ford is making an effort to appeal to young Americans with a social media campaign starring a hilarious puppet with surprisingly adult, yet smart humor.  If a company as old as Ford can embrace social media so boldly and successfully, it will only continue to throw wood on the social media fire.  Last year, Old Spice revolutionized the social media spokesperson with the week long video onslaught with the Old Spice Guy answering their follower's questions.  My co-workers sat in awe, amazed at what Old Spice was doing, and doing it so damn well.  Not every company needs to have a remarkable, memorable social media campaign, but if the future of advertising is social media, we can be sure to see a lot more social spokespeople (and spokespuppets).

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