DEARBORN, MI ‚Äď The now-emerging multimedia marketing campaign for the ‚Äô09 F-150 findsMotor Co. continuing to hammer home the point its new pickup is meant for serious truckers, not the casual-use buyers who largely have abandoned the segment.
The campaign launched with television spots on last Sunday‚Äôs ‚ÄúNFL on Fox,‚ÄĚ a logical first salvo for‚Äôs marketing team, headed up by Jim Farley, group vice president-marketing and communications.
The spots, voiced by comedian Denis Leary, are whimsical in nature but go to great lengths to highlight the F-150‚Äôs abilities, including its class-leading towing capability, fuel economy and safety technologies.
‚ÄúThe F-150 campaign focuses purely on the product, because that‚Äôs where customers are today,‚ÄĚ Farley says. ‚ÄúHype doesn‚Äôt matter. True truck customers want to know what‚Äôs different about the new F-150.‚ÄĚ
In addition to six planned television ads, the campaign will feature radio spots and a new online application set to launch this month.
The online element of the campaign is reminiscent of tactics used when Farley headed up the launch of the Scion youth brand forMotor Corp.
The four documentary-style ‚Äúwebisodes,‚ÄĚ titled ‚ÄúProve It,‚ÄĚ are hosted by F-150 Chief Engineer Matt O‚ÄôLeary and Ford pitchman Mike Rowe, host of cable television‚Äôs ‚ÄúDirty Jobs.‚ÄĚ
The webisodes, which showcase the F-150‚Äôs capabilities against its key competitors, were filmed at Ford‚Äôs Michigan Proving Ground in Romeo, MI, where the new pickup underwent harsh durability testing during its development.
‚ÄúCustomers don‚Äôt have the option of owning a truck for 10 years and seeing what it delivers, but our approach gives them a pretty good idea,‚ÄĚ Farley says. ‚ÄúThis is a different route than other companies are taking, but we believe customer are smart and deserve straight talk about trucks.‚ÄĚ
The other auto makers includeLLC, which recently launched the new ‚Äô09 Dodge Ram fullsize pickup.
Unlike the F-150, the Ram appears aimed more toward casual-use buyers, Ford officials say, because of its use of ride-oriented rear coil springs rather than traditional leaf springs that are better suited to work applications.
‚ÄúI think Dodge is late to the party. They‚Äôre going after the personal use (customers) with the (Ram‚Äôs) rear suspension,‚ÄĚ says Frank Davis, executive director of North American product development.
Because it‚Äôs so early in the launch, it‚Äôs difficult to determine if Ford‚Äôs marketing strategy of focusing on core-truck buyers is the correct one. But Farley defends the campaign.
‚ÄúWe‚Äôve done a lot of research about truck customers, which is those that need a truck,‚ÄĚ he says. ‚ÄúIn our communications, we‚Äôre going to go left when many people are going right.‚ÄĚ
Taking the approach of targeting core-truck buyers doesn‚Äôt necessarily mean Ford will drive away casual-use consumers. In fact, the campaign may appeal to both audiences, says Erich Merkle, an analyst from Crowe Horwath LLP.
‚ÄúThere are a lot of casual buyers and retail buyers that still in some ways want to emulate the work truck buyer,‚ÄĚ he says. ‚ÄúLook at other items and products out there that have been heavily marketed toward workers, but also appeal to retail buyers.
‚ÄúLook at brands like Carhartt,‚ÄĚ Merkle says of the manufacturer of work wear. ‚ÄúThere still are a lot of people that want to be associated with the working person.‚ÄĚ