Ford Revs Its Ad Budget

New Campaign From JWT, UniWorld, Zubi Rolls
DETROIT–Ford Motor Co. said it is increasing its Ford division’s advertising spending by 11 percent for the new model year, with across-the-board increases in all media. That would mean measured-media spending of about $550 million, based on Competitive Media Reporting data.
Ford launches a pool of 21 TV spots in prime-time broadcast and cable network slots this week, after previewing a few of them during regional National Football League broadcasts on Sept. 14 and 21.
Global Ford agency J. Walter Thompson here created 17 of the spots. UniWorld Group, New York, created two ads targeted at African Americans; and Zubi Advertising, Coral Gables, Fla., handled two targeted at Spanish-speaking consumers. Two of JWT’s spots are carryovers from the last model year: a Ford Expedition spot called “Fishing” and an F-Series pickup truck spot featuring country singer Alan Jackson.
“Our budget for Ford division will be up 11 percent in 1998 over 1997,” said Gerry Donnelly, Ford division marketing communications manager. “When you combine that increase with our dealer association support, I think it gives Ford division one of the most powerful voices in the marketplace. Our [dealer associations] will spend about the same amount of funds that we do. It’s a pretty powerful message.”
The division–exclusive of dealers–has spent $251.4 million on advertising through the first six months of 1997, according to Competitive Media Reporting.
The Ford print campaign begins at the end of this month in news weeklies. A special print execution aimed at younger buyers will feature the Escort ZX2, two-door Explorer, Mustang and Ranger pickup.
Ford is keeping the 15-year-old “Have you driven a Ford lately?” tagline for car models and “Built Ford tough” for truck models. “We did take a look at the tagline,” Donnelly said. “But it’s still the most recognizable tagline in the auto industry. It’s not overused yet.”
The new TV spots rely less on voiceovers and are more image-oriented than in past campaigns, Donnelly said. Several use recognizable songs from the 1960s as backgrounds. Two Taurus spots include cuts from The Who’s “Can’t Explain,” as part of an effort to lower the average age of the car’s buyer from 56 to the early to mid-40s. A humorous spot for the Ranger pickup truck uses the “Theme From The Monkees.”
Some car model spots also tout the new “Ford Choice” program, designed to simplify the buying process, Donnelly said.
Other new spots for the division models will air during the 1998 Winter Olympics, of which Ford is a major sponsor. The division is looking to sponsor other events following its involvement in the tremendously successful TV broadcast of Schindler’s List earlier this year, Donnelly said.