DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. will spend up to 20 percent more on Ford-brand U.S. marketing in the fourth quarter as it launches the next phase of its Drive One campaign.
The newest Drive One ads will begin airing Monday, Oct. 12. They are 15-second spots starring real-world owners talking about features they love about their cars. Up to 40 spots will eventually get into rotation on television. They also will be used for online promotion, company officials said.
Ford launched Drive One in April 2008 with ads touting quality, safety, smart technology and environmental features. Phase one highlighted rational reasons such as fuel economy for considering a Ford vehicle. With the newest ads, Ford will try to appeal to car shoppers' emotions.
“When we began Drive One, we wanted to rationally distance ourselves from the Detroit competition and begin to compete with Toyota and Honda,” said Matt VanDyke, Ford's director of U.S. marketing communications. “And now we're getting into a stage where we need to not just talk about being at parity with others but also talk about how we're different than others.”
Owners were invited to focus groups and filmed without being told that Ford, if granted permission, would use the footage for commercials.
In one commercial, a Ford Flex owner says he can wear skinny jeans because the keyless entry pad on his car keeps him from carrying around a big clump of keys in his pocket. Other ads highlight adjustable ambient lighting, capless fuel fillers and the Flex's refrigerator.
The 15 to 20 percent increase in fourth-quarter ad spending will contribute to an overall increase of 10 percent for full-year 2009, VanDyke said. He wouldn't give numbers, but the company has said it spends $1.5 billion annually on U.S. marketing including regional and local dealer advertising.
VanDyke wouldn't disclose a percentage change for the first quarter of 2010, but Ford global marketing chief Jim Farley previously said it also would rise.
The new Drive One ads will mix with existing launch advertising for the 2010 Ford Taurus and Fusion cars and F-series pickup spots. They will run through April.
The spots will feature Ford cars and crossovers such as the Fusion, Flex, Escape and Taurus. Early next year, the new Ford Fiesta subcompact likely will be rotated into the mix, VanDyke said, even though it won't go on sale until later in the second quarter.
Ford's research shows that the Drive One message has resonated with consumers, VanDyke said. During the first six months of 2009, favorable opinion and shopping consideration among probable buyers rose by 17 percent and 13 percent respectively, he said.
Through the first nine months of 2009, Ford brand sales are down 21 percent versus a 27 percent decline for the industry. In September, Ford sales fell 4 percent versus a 23 percent industry decline.