Ford Focus Therapy: Talk To Doug the Puppet

March 23, 2011
Unless you’re a shut-in, or you’re in solitary confinement at a maximum security prison, or the cable company decided to do repairs on your connection to the outside world and curb your on-line gaming addiction - or you’re my dad who thinks everything is horse droppings - you have no doubt been exposed in some web board, some chat, some web link to Ford’s latest spokesman Doug the Puppet.

I guess the term spokesman is a bit much, seeing as that usually entails something resembling a human. I know animals have been used for car commercials before, but I can’t recall too many puppets assuming the lead role. Was there ever a Muppet ad for cars? Well, in this case Ford decided otherwise for the Ford Focus campaign and went with something very unique.

OK, there are the requisite Facebook page and YouTube channel to give you all-modern, all-out blitz on the connected shopper. And by the likes of all the Facebook likes as well as the multiple Thumbs-Ups on YouTube, this new age, web-based ad campaign is hitting on all cylinders. Yes that is par for the course these days. But what isn't par for the course is the irreverent nature of the Ford Focus ads that are trying to sell a car but wind up being something far more.

Through the tried and true method of the straight man and the wacky comedian, Doug the puppet is introduced to us in three made for the web commercials, all directed by a real director Paul Feig. The ads have a very ‘Arrested Development’ / ‘The Office’ feel to them, with good timing from the jokers, a great straight-man in “John” the marketing guy who is wound tighter than a Victorian schoolmarm’s underwear during religion class. He’s just perfect as the always obsequious, just short of a breakdown young exec on the rise.

Doug as you can imagine is a lecherous puppet who has more come-on lines and less shame than Capt. Zap Brannigan. And Doug is darn good at being slimy. He can’t keep his mouth shut, he can’t stop hitting on the attractive Ford suit who shows him the car interior and exterior (just watch for the “smell my fingers” scene). And the opening commercial with him hitting on the reporter is priceless. This is not for the politically correct, which really raises an eyebrow.

However, my only gripe is that the Ford Focus, a really great car that can stand toe-to-toe with the VW Golf, gets lost in the shuffle of these ads. Yes, you can get a feel for all the features this car packs in, but the car somehow is forgotten. Which is a shame as I have been waiting to take this car for a spin. Who knows, maybe the 20 and 30-somethings this ad campaign is aimed at will say ‘Man, I have go to buy me a Ford Focus so I can charm the women like Doug the spokespuppet.”

Why do I think Jim Henson is spinning in his grave right now...

Ford Focus and Doug The Spokespuppet

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