- Ford debuted a new advertising campaign, its first with agency Wieden+Kennedy, called "Built Ford Proud," according to a news release. The multichannel effort highlights Ford's legacy models, along with its push into advanced automotive technology and smart vehicles.
- The campaign features six brand and nameplate ads, as well as two full line retail TV spots leading up to the availability of several new vehicles, including the Ranger pickup, which begins production this month. The spots star actor Bryan Cranston and debuted during NCAA football broadcasts on Saturday. "Built Ford Proud" will run across broadcast, digital and print through 2019, when new versions of the Escape and Explorer will go on sale. Ford is also leveraging the push to tout its new rewards program on the FordPass app and the ways it aims to stay engaged with consumers over the next several years, including through connected modems.
- With the campaign, Ford is ultimately striving to keep loyal customers as opposed to converting fans of other automakers, according to Automotive News. The brand is basing this change-up on data showing that loyal consumers are easier to retain than new consumers are to attract. Ford also has a particularly loyal customer base, with 13.5 million trucks owned in the U.S. That might translate to success for the FordPass rewards program, which was based on studies of similar offerings from brands like Delta, Starbucks and Toyota, per Automotive News.
The new campaign marks a pivot in strategy for Ford, with the brand looking to deepen existing customer relationships through more tailored loyalty offerings rather than focusing on expanding its buyer base. The realignment comes as younger consumer, including Gen Z and millennials, are driving vehicles less frequently in favor of ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft. Ford has been pinched by the headwinds broadly hitting the auto market, and said in April that it would double its cost-cutting goal from a prior $14 billion to $25.5 billion by 2020. About half of the cuts are planned for marketing and advertising.
Indeed, Ford has recently made significant changes to its marketing business. "Built Ford Proud" is the first work from Wieden+Kennedy, which was recently chosen as an "innovation partner" on some of the brand's creative initiatives. Ford earlier in the month announced it had selected BBDO as its new lead creative agency, shifting a good deal of work away from WPP's GTB. GTB is a dedicated Ford agency that handled the automaker's account for years and is headquartered near its corporate campus in Michigan.
The switch was seen as a blow to WPP, though GTB is staying on board to handle Ford's activation, media buying and planning, and shopper and performance marketing, among other things. Along with the account switch to BBDO, Ford announced the launch of a new agency model that will add more than 100 in-house marketing positions. The strategy looks to save $150 million annually for the company and allow its marketers to focus more on emerging ad tools, technology and personalization.
The newest campaign centering on revamped mobile offerings like FordPass and future technologies the brand plans to integrate, including connected modems, fits in-line with that approach. Creative for the Cranston-starring spots nods to technologies like connected vehicles and artificial intelligence as well, while still showcasing some of Ford's legacy lines. One of the spots has racked up over 5.3 million views at press time.