Ford Switches Global Tagline, Plans Online Documentary

In a bid to revive the Ford brand amid sinking sales figures, Ford Motor Company is leaving behind “Built for the Road Ahead” and adopting “Bold Moves” as its new brand platform. Online, the company is re-launching its flagship FordVehicles.com to reflect the change, and it will debut an online documentary series this summer. Initial spend is reportedly in the $50 million range.

Ford worked with the Detroit and New York offices of agency of record JWT to develop the effort.

“The focus here, across the board, is on this customer that we feel is really the target customer for Ford,” Dan Bedore, a Ford spokesperson, told ClickZ. “It’s not just a demographic. It’s more of a mindset and lifestyle.”

The “Bold Moves” effort is part of Ford’s “Way Forward” plan, announced in January, which aims to move the company to profitability by no later than 2008. The re-branding comes as Ford released April sales figures indicating that total sales of Ford-branded vehicles were down 9.3 percent year-over-year, though the company indicated its Ford Escape hybrid SUV saw record sales in April.

“Bold Moves” messaging will replace all existing taglines for individual Ford nameplates in all advertising and marketing, though the company will keep “Built Ford Tough” for its trucks.

The company launched its new platform via a :60 TV commercial on “American Idol” featuring people in situations that require a bold move. Set to the tune of “Go,” a new song performed by Idol-winner Kelly Clarkson, the spot shows a woman with breast cancer running the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation’s Race for the Cure, among other scenarios. Spots for individual products will appear on high-profile TV properties throughout the year. The company is also exploring doing a reality-TV style television program that would depict the behind-the-scenes stories of vehicle design and development.

In conjunction with the debut of the TV spot, Ford is re-launching its FordVehicles.com Web presence to reflect the “Bold Moves” messaging. To drive traffic to the site, the company will place roadblocks, beginning May 4, on AOL, Yahoo and MSN.

In addition, the company is developing an online video documentary series that depicts life behind the scenes at Ford. Starting this summer, viewers will be able to see new two- to three-minute videos weekly. The documentary’s Web site URL will be announced later.

“The idea there is to actually bring in cameras to go behind the scenes in some key decision-making meetings and product reviews,” said Bedore.

Bedore said the company is also considering ways of cajoling users to interact with the Ford brand, perhaps by allowing them to submit their own “Bold Moves” stories online.

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