Ford Motor Co.’s new “Bold Moves” marketing campaign is under way, and the auto maker is hoping it will help “drive a more emotional connection with its customers.”

The campaign bowed during the popular “American Idol” Fox TV show this week, with two ad spots featuring an original song written for Ford by past Idol winner Kelly Clarkson. Ford says it owns the rights to the song, titled “Go.”

Unlike campaigns of the past, the new marketing strategy will be integrated into the auto maker’s corporate culture, says Al Giombetti, president-Ford and Lincoln Mercury sales, marketing, revenue and retail management.

“We intend on living with this for a long time,” he says, adding the marketing scheme is more of a corporate platform than a traditional campaign.

“You will see that ‘Bold Moves’ is much bigger than a tagline, much bigger than a series of ad spots. It is a marketing platform that will allow us to market cars, trucks and SUVs under a common theme.”

The campaign plans to highlight Ford customers and employees making bold moves in their lives and will show Ford as a company willing to make bold moves of its own.

“We need more than great products to be successful,” Giombetti says. “We need bold moves going to market.”

The ad strategy also will feature Internet, broadcast and print elements. Ford plans on producing a weekly online documentary showcasing the auto maker’s internal workings as it undergoes a massive North American restructuring.

Ford says it has hired an independent outside agency to film the documentary, and has given the video crews nearly free reign to film in any Ford facility, from plant floors to corporate boardrooms.

“Don’t be surprised if you see cameras in some unusual places in the coming months,” Mark Fields, executive vice president and president-The Americas, says.

“You may be asked to participate in the documentary, and if you’re asked, I encourage you to participate and to be honest in showing the world how committed we are at Ford to delivering the ‘Red White and Bold’ to our customers,” Fields adds, referring to an internal message to play up Ford’s American heritage.

Ford plans on launching the Web-based documentary later this spring and says it currently is in negotiations with several major Internet portals to host the series.

Last week, Ford unveiled the new marketing platform to its top 100 dealers in a closed-door meeting at company headquarters in Dearborn, MI. Officials say the idea was well received by the dealers in attendance.

Kevin Collins, president-Bill Collins Ford in Louisville, KY, and vice chairman-Ford National Dealer Council, says the auto maker is on the right track.

“Last fall, dealers overwhelmingly told management they were concerned about direction, leadership, competitiveness, product – a whole litany of things,” says Collins, who attended the meeting.

“Certainly Mark (Fields) and his team have taken that as a challenge, and this is one of the responses – a new advertising marketing platform that’s not gimmicky, but solid and cuts through the clutter and goes to the heart of Ford Motor Co. and its brand.”

Ford declines to reveal the cost of the new campaign, but an executive says the auto maker has increased its marketing budget by double digits through 2007.

bpope@wardsauto.com