DETROIT - In a scrap metal yard in Detroit, Ford Division is crafting an aggressive image for its truck lineup. With just a narrow lead over Chevrolet for truck leadership so far this year, Ford plans to launch a TV campaign next month showing its top-selling F-150 running over a series of scrapped competitive vehicles.
"They wanted something very aggressive and to tout their claim that (the F series) was the top selling truck for 25 years," said George Piliouras, senior partner and executive creative director on the Ford Dealer Advertising Fund account for J. Walter Thompson of Detroit, Ford's national advertising agency.
"The whole idea is that as (Ford) trekked its way to the top, someone had to suffer the consequences. They believe they are No. 1, and they want to come across with a leadership message."
The TV spots will begin in local markets in May and will focus on both payload and full-sized pickup sales leadership. Production crews filmed a red F-150 scaling a platform of crushed vehicles from Chevrolet and Chrysler group and a heap of scrap metal.
The ad will use the line, "Ford crushes the competition."
Another clip shows a bale of scrap metal being dropped into the pickup bed. The single bale has several competitive make logos on it and was created by prop craftsmen.
"We've always done (competitive message) ads, and they'll always be part of the mix," said Rich Stoddart, Ford Division marketing communications manager. He said the campaign is part of an overall effort at Ford to tout sales and product leadership. There is no print component now.
"There is an aggressive stance (at Ford)," Stoddart said. "We want to stand up and make sure people understand what we stand for, where we've been and where we're going. That's the marketing strategy."
Although Ford Division is the truck sales leader, its lead is weakening.
Ford Division sold 488,383 light trucks through the first three months of this year, 25,774 more than Chevy. That compares with a sales lead of 127,999 at the same time last year.
Ford Division truck sales fell 10.9 percent for the three-month period, and its market share slipped 3.1 points; Chevy's share rose 2.1 points and its sales increased 10.2 percent.
But for now, the ads ring true. "We can only make a claim if it's legal," quipped Piliouras. "(Ford) has been the (full-sized pickup) leader for 25 years in a row."