Ford Maps a New Expedition

Ford Motor Co. begins to push its 2003 Ford Expedition this week with a campaign from J. Walter Thompson here.

The early campaign is an attempt to build interest in the SUV, which won’t be in show rooms until next month, said Doug Walczak, marketing manager at the agency.

The effort will differentiate the Expedition from the competition by empha sizing three new characteristics, said Rich Stoddart, Ford division marketing communications manager. The new features: a third-row seat that can be folded down at the touch of a button, an independent rear suspension and a side air curtain protection system.

The ads continue to employ Ford’s “No boundaries” tagline.

The car maker spent less than $5 million on Expedition advertising last year, a 65 percent drop from the year before, according to CMR. While executives declined to quantify 2002 spending, it’s expected the outlay will exceed last year’s, according to sources.

One 30-second commercial, titled “Shark Attack,” shows a group of sharks circling and then attacking an Expedition that is underwater. The vehicle’s “safety canopy”—essentially side airbags— engages, quickly dissuading the predators.

Another, titled “Seat Odyssey,” uses the track “Also Sprach Zara thustra” from 2001: A Space Ody s sey. Two couples approach the back of the vehicle and watch as the third-row seat folds flat. One couple is awestruck, only saying, “Whoa,” as the vehicle’s owners smile smugly.

Print executions present brain teasers on a one-page, with answers and beauty shots of the vehicle on the next two. Copy reads, “If the answer wasn’t obvious, start thinking differently.”

“We wanted to challenge customers to think the way we thought when we designed the vehicle,” Stoddart said.

The campaign includes Internet, outdoor and direct mail. An online sweepstakes will require entrants to answer questions similar to the ones in print.