Ford’s recent “press conference” television ads have a fairly simple premise: grab real life Ford owners and put them into an unscripted press conference setting, to get their feedback on Ford’s products. The problem with unscripted television, however, is that you often get opinions and dialogue that would otherwise be considered too controversial for mainstream advertising.
Take a recent “press conference” ad from Ford, for example. In it, F-150 owner “Chris,” whose last name isn’t given, is asked if buying American was important. His response was hyper-critical of both GM and Chrysler, whose government loans will end up costing taxpayers as much as $16 billion:
“I wasn’t going to buy another car that was bailed out by our government. I was going to buy from a manufacturer that’s standing on their own: win, lose or draw.”
Chris goes on to say that America is about taking chances to succeed, but equally about picking yourself up and going back to work when you fail. In other words, no handouts from the government to keep you in business.
Bill Ford was strongly opposed to a Ford bankruptcy, as far back as 2006. Ford even went so far as to work for free until the company was again profitable, going without a paycheck from 2005 until 2010. While Ford executives have been vocal in their disdain for government bailouts, the automaker has thus far resisted using that point in advertising.
Ford is now the second automaker to punch below the belt in its advertising. Just last month, Nissan released a series of ads mocking Toyota and Honda’s inventory levels, which are still a casualty of the March disasters in Japan. Like political ads, it may be that nothing is sacred any longer in automotive advertising.