Ford hopes branded entertainment strategy will make drivers love its cars

Ford is looking

to branded entertainment to transform its image from a fairly prosaic, functional brand to something that car drivers find distinctive, fun or aspirational. The idea is just to make them feel something positive about the UK’s largest-selling car marque.

As Ford marketing director Mark Simpson puts it: “Ford is not necessarily known as the car of choice. Although it is a rational and sensible purchase, we want it to be a car people want, not one they settle for.”

It’s a necessary strategy, since there’s a whole range of car marques that have more emotional pull than Ford. Quite apart from the upmarket brands like BMW, Mercedes and Volvo, Volkswagen, Renault and even Skoda have managed to tap into the consumer’s feelings in recent years.

It’s also a strategy fraught with difficulties, especially when going down the branded entertainment route. Inspired by Foster’s revival of the comedy character Alan Partridge Simpson is talking to several production and entertainment companies to see what they come up with for the global launch of its latest Focus model.

It’s such a shame he can’t take advantage of a new research finding from California.

According to the study, the hormone oxytocin, which acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain, makes people feel more sympathetic towards causes and issues raised in commercials.

Participants in the research were given oxytocin to sniff or a placebo and then shown US and UK public service ads about the dangers of smoking, alcohol, reckless driving and global warming.

Those who’d taken the oxytocin said they felt an increased level of support for the causes advertised and donated 56 per cent more money to them.

But wouldn’t it just be a lot easier if TV sets were programmed to spray a little burst of oxytocin into the room when the Ford commercials were running?

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About David O'Reilly

David is a former deputy editor of Campaign and writer for a number of leading titles including Management Today and the Sunday Times. He is a partner in The Editorial Partnership.