Ford Bold Moves Ad

Running in the Premium Right BlogAd strip is a Ford ad called “THE FUTURE OF FUEL, THE FUTURE OF FORD.”

Ordinarily, I pretty much ignore the ads, approving them without reading them and only exercising editorial judgment on them if they’re in such poor taste as to potentially ward off readers. Hell, I’ve taken ads from George Soros and people selling anti-Republican t-shirts and such. Like Arlo Guthrie, I’m not proud.

BlogAds founder Henry Copeland sent out an email about the ads, though, that caught my attention. He proclaimed: “In my view, it’s the most exciting ad to cross Blogads’ servers in our four years of business.” That’s saying something.

The ad promotes a film in Ford’s BoldMoves weekly documentary series. Click and you’ll hear people saying “Ford has the worst fuel efficiency of any automaker in America… years and years of mistakes… these guys don’t have much time.”

This is an ad? Yes. The first Cluetrain ad.

Back in 1999 the Cluetrain Manifesto predicted that people-powered-publishing would spark a commercial revolution. Magnified by cheap web sites and hyperlinks, passionate individual human voices would drown out bland corporate-speak. As Cluetrain put it, “most corporations… only know how to talk in the soothing, humorless monotone of the mission statement, marketing brochure, and your-call-is-important-to-us busy signal. Same old tone, same old lies. No wonder networked markets have no respect for companies unable or unwilling to speak as they do. But learning to speak in a human voice is not some trick, nor will corporations convince us they are human with lip service about ‘listening to customers.’ They will only sound human when they empower real human beings to speak on their behalf.” But since 1999 we’ve heard very few real human beings speaking on behalf of corporations. Though it’s clear that web-powered human voices ARE winning, most corporations remain Cluetrain victims rather than victors.

Now, down a few billion bucks and peddling gas-guzzlers, Ford has drunk the Cluetrain cool-aid. Eschewing the “same old tone, same old lies” and the “soothing humorless monotone,” this Ford ad celebrates the brutally honest conversations that are essential to its revival. And Ford’s BoldMoves project finds an ideal counterpart in the blogosphere, the great American brainstorm.

It’s an interesting approach. In today’s post-post-post-ironic advertising age, when ads often don’t even bother to mention the product they’re supposedly trying to persuade us to purchase, it’s hard to know what “works.” Still, it’s a novel approach from the junior member of what is now the Big Two American automakers.

FILED UNDER: Economics and Business, ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.