To attract hard-to-reach young buyers, Ford Division will use live TV commercials to launch the new Focus small car.
Annabelle Gurwitch, host of cable TV's 'Dinner & A Movie' on the TBS cable station, will star in more than 60 live commercials for the Focus over the next six months. The first three commercials break Sept. 9 during the 'Video Music Awards' on cable's youth-oriented MTV channel.
'This is an unconventional car for an unconventional target, so we need to disrupt people from conventional thinking,' said Jan Klug, marketing general manager of the division, who oversees advertising.
If the live commercials contain gaffes by Gurwitch, so be it. 'I think you'll find some bloopers, which will build a following,' said Bruce Rooke, executive creative director at ad agency J. Walter Thompson in Detroit.
Gurwitch will not appear in four other conventional Focus commercials from J. Walter Thompson. The live commercials will make up about 30 percent of the campaign's heavy TV buy, Klug said. TV teasers for the live MTV commercials break the first week of September.
Roughly 25 percent of the total media buy for the car will go to the Internet. Visitors to the dedicated Focus Web site, focus247.com, can get a live, behind-the-scenes look at how the crew sets up for the TV spot.
The media buy includes bus wraps, ads in transit shelters, billboards and magazines. One print headline says, 'Sound without Focus is just noise.'
Jim O'Connor, president of the division, said the Focus is one of Ford's biggest ad launches in recent years. He declined to give specifics.
Ford's last major ad launch was the $100 million media blitz for the redesigned 1996 Taurus in fall 1995.
The Focus campaign includes many nontraditional elements, such as sponsoring concerts, giving 120 cars to trendy young people in various cities and partnering with Sony Corp.
UniWorld Group in New York, Ford's African-American ad agency, created Focus radio spots in a hip poetry format. Zubi Advertising in Miami created the Hispanic ad campaign.
With consumers demanding more personalized vehicles, Ford is offering special option packages, said Julie Roehm, brand manager. For example, the Pet Package includes a pet safety harness, nonspill water bowl and pooper-scooper for long trips.