Originally posted on 1.29.2009

Generally speaking, I hate all car commercials and communications, especially when it comes to trucks. I understand that most generalizations of truck buyers/drivers have them labeled as sort of the ultimate example of hyper-masculinity in America: predominantly white males, who like big “pipes,” growling engines and off-roading, or other sorts of thrill seeking antics. Why else would every form of communications for pickup trucks (up until now) show the most macho, high-energy males on the planet, driving through the most ridiculous obstacles and “testing facilities,” ever imagined? Is this really connecting with them?

Mainly, what bothers me is that I think these messages devalue the true intelligence and purpose of the men (and women) who actually NEED a truck for the work they do–belittling its complexity and importance. We live in a world of constant connectivity and “smart devices”! Have we really assumed all this time that people who drive trucks are not part of this world?

Regardless of the horrible management and lack of innovation that the Big-3 have shown over the past, well, 20 years, I have to applaud Ford for developing a product that is, in my mind, both a huge step forward in modernizing the American pickup truck, but also a brilliant way of raising the expectations for drivers and carving out a niche within the truck market for, what I’ll call, “Smart-Trucks.”

As for the communications efforts, I thought Ford nailed it. The colors, font and imagery feel rugged, yet smart. Hiring Dennis Leary as the sarcastic, “no-nonsense,” spokesperson was, again, perfect for the message. While I think, the features and functions the new truck offer speak for themselves, Leary’s delivery and the pace and timing of the text forces the viewer to engage and communicates the product and brand message powerfully. Finally, I think by choosing to not have a central character representing the truck, it allows every pickup truck driver/potential driver to easily relate to the message and project their own lives and work onto the screen, without being forced to decide whether or not they like the guy on screen–even though Mike Rowe might be one of the most likable/relateable guys on TV these days.

I don’t own a car, let alone a pickup, but, if I ever did NEED one, a Ford F-150 would be at the top of my list.

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