Ford shifts toward purpose in latest ‘Built Ford Proud’ installment

diving letter:

  • Ford Motor Company is launching its latest campaign under the slogan “Built Ford Proud,” the first of its kind for the automaker in three years, according to details shared with Marketing Dive.
  • Efforts to shine a spotlight on Ford drivers and their passions include partnerships with actor Sydney Sweeney, stunt driver Dee Bryant and surfer Kai Lenny, each of whom will appear in individual commercials and launch separate initiatives tying Ford to their interests .
  • Created in cooperation with agency partners Wieden+ Kennedy New York, Artemis, mind share, VML And BBDO, Activations include social media, connected TV and radio, limited edition merch and CRM content. The move signals a shift from Ford to incorporate more emotionally-driven tactics into its marketing.

Dive insight:

Ford’s latest effort sees the automaker shifting its traditional “Built Ford Proud” tactics — which have historically focused heavily on Ford vehicles and equipment — to focus more on the people behind the wheel and the… to focus on the causes they stand for.

At the heart of the effort are partnerships with Sweeney, Bryant and Lenny – each starring in their own commercials – who were chosen for their unique connections to the Ford brand. Best known for her starring role on the HBO series Euphoria, Sweeney was recruited by Ford due to her passion for restoring classic cars, which makes her prominent on her TikTok channel Syd’s Garage. Elevating their platform comes at a time when only 2.1% of mechanics are female, according to the release details. Through the collaboration, Sweeney will host an Auto 101 TikTok series on her channel and will also showcase her women-focused workwear collection, made in partnership with Dickies.

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Stunt driver Bryant, who has appeared in previous Ford commercials, will be starting a social media series titled “Stuff Only Dee Should Do” featuring the 2024 Mustang. The driver, one of the few African American women in the industry, uses her platform to fight inequality and is the founder of the nonprofit Association of Women Drivers. A final partnership with big-wave surfer Lenny, who uses Ford’s F-Series trucks to haul gear, will produce a line of limited-edition surfboards, each designed with colorways to match Ford’s Super Duty trim levels truck fit. Eight surfboards from the collection will be donated to the Positively Kai Foundation, the Maui surfers’ charity.

Ford’s latest move is joined by other new efforts aimed at highlighting underrepresented groups. For Women’s History Month, the automaker unveiled a tongue-in-cheek video titled “The Ford Explorer Men’s Only Edition” in early March, which jokingly reinterpreted the vehicle without features designed by women, including heaters, wipers and turn signals, among others. The company also shared social media content in February highlighting Black History Month. “Built Ford Proud” could become a bigger part of Ford’s marketing since the company recently applied to trademark the slogan.

While Ford is tailoring its “Built Ford Proud” message to include more emotional messages, others in the auto landscape have employed similar tactics. For example, a recent Kia ad titled “Binky Dad,” debuted during Super Bowl LVII, highlighted the Telluride X-Pro’s capabilities through the story of a father rushing to recover a forgotten pacifier. Advertising spending in the auto industry is one of the few sectors not affected by an ongoing marketing slowdown. According to the latest Standard Media Index results, spending in this category rose 9% year over year in January.

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