Comedian Denis Leary is crowing about something new in Ford F-150 ads: technology that is meant to make backing up a trailer easier.
The longtime Ford pitchman -- known for his boastful tone -- narrates a new spot that will debut during Fox's NFL coverage on Thanksgiving Day that plugs the truck's "pro trailer backup assist." The feature comes on the new 2016 F-150 and allows drivers to steer a trailer hitched on back using a control knob on the dash, taking the "frustration out of backing up," according to Ford.
Ford's decision to spend part of its ad budget plugging the feature is further proof that technology features are playing an increasing role in auto marketing. An Autotrader survey released last week found that 77 percent of buyers stated that technological features are more important than the vehicle's color.
Also, 65 percent of those surveyed said they would switch vehicle brands to get all their desired features, which can range from WiFi and streaming music services to cruise control and diagnostic alerts.
"In-vehicle technology ranks increasingly higher for consumers as they consider must-have and desired features in their car shopping," Michelle Krebs, a senior analyst for Autotrader, said in a statement. "That puts automakers under intense pressure to anticipate and offer the technologies consumers desire, or they risk losing them to a brand that delivers."
But while demand is increasingly driven by tech features, "automakers are just sort of catching up in terms of advertising those aspects," she added in an interview.
New round of ads
The new Ford ad, called "Brainstorm," is the third in a series of spots by WPP's Team Detroit for the F-150 that began airing in September during NFL programming. The other two spots plug more traditional selling points like gas mileage, truck body strength and safety ratings.
The Ford family owns the Detroit Lions NFL franchise, which plays in one of the traditional Thanksgiving NFL games.
The Ford F-series is the largest U.S. vehicle brand by sales. Sales of the new aluminum-bodied truck grew 3.3 percent in October and are up 1.5 percent to 629,951 vehicles for the first 10 months of the year.