- Ford launched an ad campaign to raise awareness around a new program that provides assistance to customers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, according to a company news release.
- The automaker has an existing Ford Credit program that gives financial relief to buyers affected by federal and local disasters. Now, it's extending the service to those whose lives are disrupted by the novel coronavirus, which causes the illness COVID-19.
- Ford will drop all national ads around its vehicles to instead spotlight the relief campaign that was developed in just one week with agency Wieden + Kennedy New York, Ad Age reported. The push debuts with two 30-second spots titled "Built To Lend A Hand" and "Built for Right Now."
Ford is taking a proactive approach with its marketing in response to the pandemic that last week led President Donald Trump to declare a national emergency. The company is extending its financial relief program with the expectation that the outbreak could have long-lasting economic consequences on its customers, who might welcome the support and uplifting message during uncertain times.
Under the expanded Ford Credit program, those who have purchased or are leasing Ford vehicles can contact the company to explain difficulties brought on by the pandemic and potentially change their payment due date or delay a payment. Customers purchasing a new vehicle can also delay their first payment for 90 days as part of the program. Ford is encouraging people to reach out through its online portal, FordPass mobile app or a dedicated hotline to discuss their options.
The new spots promoting the initiative display archival footage and text overlays that detail Ford's past relief efforts, including for those affected by wildfires, hurricanes and tornadoes last year. The titles of the ads link back to the company's larger "Built Ford Proud" platform introduced two years ago.
Ford's creative shift is just the latest instance of a brand switching up its strategy in response to the pandemic. Brands including KFC, Hershey, Coors and Axe have in recent weeks either pulled ads from air or halted the rollout of new campaigns over concerns around associating with the deadly virus. Marketers in general are taking extra precautions to avoid coming across as tone-deaf or insensitive during the outbreak. Hershey's ads, for example, were axed for showing people giving hugs and handshakes — the type of physical contact health experts warn against — as Ad Age previously reported.
Unlike these cases, Ford isn't dropping its campaign to sidestep a potential controversy, but rather to highlight the actions it's taking in response to the coronavirus. The move signals that marketers still have opportunities for deploying purpose-led work during what's forecast to be a down period for the industry, and a time when many brands will likely opt to play it safe. Ford is supporting the push by donating $500,000 to Michigan nonprofit groups and assisting with food delivery for senior citizens and children without access to school meals during the shutdown.