JWT Sets the Pace With Ford GT

NEW YORK J. Walter Thompson will debut two spots introducing Ford Motor Co.’s 2005 Ford GT during the hour before kickoff on the Super Bowl. “The pace car for an entire company” is the tagline in both ads.

A 30-second teaser spot by the Detroit, Mich., agency shows fast cuts of the red-and-white car’s interior and exterior, interspersed with glimpses of the vehicle driving around a track. In the 60-second version, the car is seen circling the track at high speeds. A voiceover asks questions like, “In which gear do you realize that a car is everything it is supposed to be?”

Though the automaker will produce less than 800 of the $140,000 luxury sports car this year, the spots are also designed to illustrate what Ford as a company can do, according to Steve Lyons, president of the Ford division in Dearborn, Mich.

“We’re a family company,” said Lyons. “The same engineering goes into [the GT] as in everything we do.”

Jeff Zwart of @radical.media directed the spots, which were shot this month at a racecourse in Thunderhill Park in Willows, Calif. A helicopter and a high-speed camera car were enlisted to film the car, which reached speeds of up to 140 miles per hour with professional driver Rod Milner behind the wheel.

The ads kick off what Ford has dubbed the “Year of the Car.” The company will introduce five 2005 models, its largest wave of new products, according to Richard Stoddart, marketing communications manager of the Ford division. The GT and Ford Focus will roll out in the second quarter; the 500 sedan and Freestyle, a car-like SUV, will arrive in the third quarter; and the Mustang will launch in the fourth quarter.

Spending on the ad effort was undisclosed. The Ford division of Ford Motor Co. spent about $870 million overall on advertising in 2002 and about $720 million through November 2003, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus.