‘Ford Proud’ marketing campaign shows company swagger

Ford Motor Co.’s marketing campaign plays up the automaker’s heritage and takes shots at its rivals.

LAS VEGAS — Ford Motor Co. is transforming its business for the future, but it wants consumers to know that it’s still very good at building the cars and trucks on sale today.

The automaker over the weekend planned to debut a new marketing campaign, “Built Ford Proud,” in a series of print ads and TV commercials that play up the company’s 115-year history and family heritage while taking shots at rivals such as Tesla, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

“The company’s got its swagger back,” Jim Farley, Ford’s president of global markets, told reporters here. “We think customers are ready to hear directly from a company that says, ‘Here’s what we’re about, this is what makes us different and we hope you like it.’ ”

The TV spots, to have aired during Saturday’s college football games and set to run through 2019, feature actor Bryan Cranston. Ford gave its dealers who gathered last week in Las Vegas a first glimpse of the commercials.

In one spot, “The Future is Built,” Cranston pokes fun at companies that “talk about the future.”

“You see, talk doesn’t get things done. Building does,” he says over an instrumental of “Paint It Black” by the Rolling Stones. “So let the other guys keep dreaming about the future. We’ll be the ones building it.”

In another commercial shown to dealers, featuring the Escape crossover, Ford takes aim at Tesla and its celebrity CEO, Elon Musk.

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“It’s never been referred to as fancy,” Cranston says. “It’s never been launched into space. It’s never waited for anyone important on the tarmac. And it couldn’t care less, because the Ford Escape proudly sits in over 2 million garages. And that was intentional.”

A third spot, which slowly zooms in on the company’s Blue Oval logo, targets brands such as Ram and Jaguar, as well as GM.

“It isn’t a deadly predator, or made-up creature,” Cranston says. “It doesn’t have wings, horns or teeth. There’s no self-appointed crown. It doesn’t repurpose someone else’s legacy. It’s not a metaphor, or the result of a merger. It’s none of those things. It’s our family name.”

The ads were developed by creative agency Wieden + Kennedy and are the first results of a new multiagency advertising model announced this month.

“They found a great voice for what we already knew was our voice,” Farley said. “I don’t know why we weren’t talking that way before. It really had emotional resonance I haven’t seen.”

Wieden + Kennedy also created Nike’s controversial 30th anniversary “Just Do It” campaign featuring former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, as well as Chrysler’s popular “Imported from Detroit” campaign.

The ads continue Ford’s partnership with Cranston, who first appeared two years ago in its Super Bowl commercial.

“I think he really captures that no-baloney, real honesty that frankly we don’t hear much of anymore,” Farley said. “We really wanted to have a theme that ties the whole lineup together.”

Ford is preparing a product blitz in the coming years that will include the next-generation Escape and Explorer, a freshened Super Duty, revivals of the Ranger and Bronco names, and a long-range battery-electric crossover.

Farley said the ad campaign doesn’t replace Ford’s “Go Further” tag line, or the popular “Built Ford Tough” slogan, which will continue to be used for its trucks.

In addition to the TV spots, Ford is taking out print ads in publications including Automotive News, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

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