Ford launches marketing campaign for electric F-150 Lightning

As the all-electric F-150 Lightning pickup hits the market, Ford’s new ad campaign uses a traditional approach featuring the themes of hard-working employees and teamwork in an anthem-style TV ad, and the sponsorship of a major sporting event. But Ford is also innovating with a big dip in cultural diversity — and an unusually pungent dig at other companies’ CEOs, perhaps to be interpreted as targeting Elon Musk.

The automaker’s #FORDfortheBuilders campaign comes at a unique and crucial time for the company as it begins releasing Lightning to the US market amid its decision to tie a powertrain to battery to its most prominent nameplate will rivet both traditional F-150 truck buyers and engage a whole new population of customers. Ford CEO Jim Farley has essentially bet the company’s future on rapidly electrifying existing popular models and producing more all-electric vehicles and batteries as part of new $50 billion investment. dollars in factories in Kentucky, Tennessee and Michigan.

Developed by Wieden + Kennedy, the campaign begins with TV and social media spots narrated by Bryan Cranston, the actor who has been the voice of Ford commercials for a few years now, and features employees assembling Lightning to the new Rouge Electric. Company Vehicle Center. in Dearborn, Michigan. The spots will begin appearing May 7 during NBC’s broadcast of the Kentucky Derby.

Meanwhile, Ford’s marketing edge will also be on display this weekend in the brand’s sponsorship of the Derby, launched on TikTok and including a focus on individual Ford employees in the TV show. Those workers might be seen as organic by the crowd, because Ford builds big SUVs and heavy-duty pickup trucks at a factory in Louisville, the city that also hosts the Derby.

“We want to make sure we get to where we ultimately want to be as a company: leading the electrification revolution,” said Jim Peters, Ford’s head of U.S. sponsorships and partnerships. General director. “The way we’re going to get there is to focus on our people. It’s about celebrating the future of American manufacturing that we invest in and our role in that future.

“Everyone celebrates social media influencers, CEOs and tech gurus, but our marketing is about ‘builders’. That’s a big part of our story as we lead this revolution. With our capabilities and our resources, we are unique as a big player in this space, and this campaign highlights that.

So, in the one-minute version of the new spot titled “Ford for the Builders,” Cranston intones, “Right now, it might seem like the only people that matter are the loudest ones, the ones who want to tear things down, and then soar on their own personal spaceships when the going gets tough.Background scenes include a yak mouth and a rocket launch.

Then the visuals move into Ford territory, such as the grass-covered “green” roof of its traditional F-150 plant in Dearborn, near the Rouge EV center; a model of one of the large electric vehicle factories planned by Ford in the center-south; and action inside the F-150 Lightning factory.

“But we have 182,000 people, and they’re building big things, new things, things that will change the way we do things,” Cranston continues. “Assemble more vehicles in the United States than any other automaker. Fifty billion dollars committed to electric vehicles. And you may not know their names, but these people stand up every day and work together to move us all forward. Cameos follow featuring a few individual Ford workers and their signatures under “Built Ford Proud.”

Ford also makes a big deal of the features of the F-150 Lightning that even its conventional F-150 doesn’t offer, including an on-board generator that can power a house and a spacious underhood compartment known as the “frunk.” He chose social media to lead a new effort to enter the American lexicon and use this feature as the tip of a broad strategy to popularize Lightning in cities and to diverse populations, demographics that don’t have not been seriously targeted by truck manufacturers. before.

Ford has therefore concocted a YouTube series of three videos showing influencers using frunk in different ways, all in urban settings. One shows two male members of a Bronx-based collective of chefs called Ghetto Gastro cooking shrimp and waffles from supplies they took to the frunk and using only Lightning energy and a Ford Mustang Mach-E all-electric car. In other videos, musicians and tattoo artists use Lightning’s frunk and onboard power supply alike.

Farley, who rose through the ranks at Ford in sales and marketing, was “conscious” of the direction of the new brand campaign, a spokesperson said, while CMO Suzy Deering led the effort.

What the spokesperson declined to say is whether the line in the “Ford for the Builders” spot that refers to people “who want to tear things down and then fly away on their own personal spaceships when the things get tough” is a veiled reference to Musk, the founder and CEO of electric car company Tesla and SpaceX, which makes spacecraft, and, of course, the potential new acquirer of Twitter.

The boost could also implicitly refer to Jeff Bezos, who owns the Blue Orbit rocket outfit and has actually flown into space, as does Richard Branson, who owns Virgin Galactic. But Musk talked about dying on Mars, which involves escaping Earth. Additionally, Farley keeps mentioning Ford’s intention to become a solid No. 2 player in the EV market for Tesla within a few years, presumably in hopes of one day overtaking the upstart.

Additionally, Farley and Musk have had a frenzied relationship on Twitter for the past two years, though lately their open conversation has complemented each other.

“The graveyard of car startups from the last century is very large and will grow,” Musk tweeted in October. “Tesla and Ford are the only American automakers that haven’t gone bankrupt.”

To which Farley replied, “Thank you for leading the way.”

William L. Hart