Super Bowl doesn't hold much allure for the Ford ad folks

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Eight automakers have bought airtime for the Super Bowl, setting it up to be one of biggest auto ad blitzes in recent memory.

Yet none of that seems to worry Ford Motor Co.

I recently asked some Ford marketing bosses about their plans to advertise during the big game. Their reaction was to look at me the same way they would had I asked: “Is Ford going to bring back the Model T soon?”

Under the leadership of global marketing czar Jim Farley, Ford has moved a lot of its marketing viral or to grass-roots local campaigns.

The result is a powerful legion of word-of-mouth warriors generated through social media marketing campaigns such as the Fiesta Movement and now the Ford Focus Rally: America.

Farley also turned to Ford's dealer body to tout quality improvements. Last year, they ran a series of ads promoting that Ford didn't take federal funds.

Ford's sales through November are up 19 percent to 1.8 million light vehicles, topping the U.S. industry rise of 11 percent. Ford has had three consecutive quarters of profits this year.

Farley promised to make every dime in his tight advertising budget count. Social media and dealer ads cost a lot less than the nearly $3 million per spot in the Super Bowl.

And with eight other automakers already punting during the big game, perhaps Ford's approach keeps it from getting lost in the Super Bowl ad shuffle.

You can reach Jamie LaReau at jlareau@crain.com. -- Follow Jamie on Twitter

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