Ford Cuts the BS and Focuses on Trust

In my opinion, the quickest way to customers’ hearts — and wallets — is to be authentic. Partnering with Pitchfork Media, Ford has created a series of Web videos in which female artists, like Elle King and Betty Who, get together and have honest conversations about what’s important to them … while driving around in a Ford Focus.

Elle King and Betty Who In FocusA couple of weeks ago, as I scrolled through my Facebook feed, I came across a “Suggested Post” from Ford featuring a video of Elle King and Betty Who. I’m a fan of Elle, so I stopped scrolling and watched, despite my usual disdain for all things “suggested” on social.

The video is just under three minutes, and these two female musicians discuss things near and dear to my heart: body image issues and body positivity, being authentic and creative, pushing the limits that people set for you as a woman. I watched the entire thing, realizing that, yes, Elle and Betty are driving around Brooklyn in a Ford Focus, but the car is not the focus (pun intended) of the video.

Instead, it’s these two bright, talented, articulate women talking about life, talking about issues that I deal with, too. And what kept me watching was the conversation they were having … an honest conversation between two friends. I loved it.

It’s not until 2:41 in the video that you see the words “Ford Focus” come onto the screen. Then there’s a quick shot of the traditional Ford logo, followed by Elle mentioning that if you want to listen to the entire conversation (yes, they recorded a fabulous 20 minutes!), go to

By 2:50, there’s about 9 seconds of video of a gentleman telling Betty, still in the driver’s seat, about the assisted backup camera in the car. But that’s it.

Ford used 9-10 seconds of a 2 minute and 59 second video for its product, and left the remaining 95 percent of the video in the hands of Elle and Betty.

Better yet, here are some of the Facebook shares I found of this video:

Screen Shot 2015-12-30 at 9.59.43 AM

Screen Shot 2015-12-30 at 9.59.23 AMNow, are these people talking about how they want to go out and buy a Ford Focus? No, and that’s ok. They’re talking about Elle and Betty’s conversation, about how much they like the musicians.

What Ford did right here was to partner with Pitchfork, a Chicago-based online publication know for its coverage of indie music. Pitchfork was able to make the connections with the musicians, Ford provided the cars, and the end result is some really stellar content marketing.

I can’t say whether or not this will help sell cars, but so far there are three episodes, all with this focus:

We’re in an unprecedented era of female artistry — women are changing the landscape in music, art, literature, and more. In Focus brings together two brilliant female artists to share their experiences, get to know each other, and honestly discuss all the things that are important to them.

These videos will attract a female audience; they will possibly help Ford earn the trust of this audience; and if nothing else it will get people talking. I know I have been … aside from this post, I’ve already mentioned the Elle and Betty video to several of my female friends.

Good job Ford and Pitchfork. You know who you’re trying to reach, you’re giving me content I care about — from people I admire — and you’re not trying to cram in a hard sell for your car.

Oh, and it helps that your website is pretty freaking gorgeous.

Now, in comparison, you have the Matthew McConaughey ads for Lincoln … and the ridiculously funny spoof ads from SNL.

Needless to say, if SNL is spoofing you, there might be a problem. And for Lincoln, the bigger question is how do you expect to make an honest connection?

Author: Melissa Ward

Melissa Ward is the managing editor for Target Marketing, and she has opinions! More importantly, she's a nerd for great copy and design, a disciple of authenticity, and really loves it when marketers get it right.

8 thoughts on “Ford Cuts the BS and Focuses on Trust”

  1. Ahem! Before we all go and have our authenticity orgasms, answer one question for me, please. Exactly how many cars did it sell?

    1. 1. To me, the “Infocus” campaign is not about selling cars. It’s about gaining trust with a younger, female audience … possibly setting us up for a purchase down the road. Ford is what our dads drove in the 90s (mine had a 92 Thunderbird that I later inherited). So if Ford wants to gain access to us, the auto giant needs to understand us and SHOW it. Ford worked with Pitchfork, was able to showcase female musicians (influencers) and create INTERESTING, RELEVANT, and GOOD content. 2. The Elle King/Betty Who episode went live in early-mid December, and there was one before it, so it looks like the campaign has only been active 6 weeks or so. That means it’s probably too soon to say, nor is there really any to track, which looks to be a purposeful decision by Ford. It’s about audience and gaining trust first. And I appreciate being marketed to this way.

      1. I agree. I think nowadays we are too focussed on making the sale. Engage the audience first by connecting with them. If you have good products/services, they will be curious and explore. Today’s buyers are turned off by the hard sale technique (at least I am). I think gaining the attention of the buyer by talking about stuff that they are interested in and that are meaningful to them seems like a lot of time wasted, but it has a better chance of getting them to look at what you’ve got. Then they can decide to buy (or not) without feeling pressured to do so.

  2. Okay, in that case, is Ford tracking the increase, if any, in the trust they are building among potential customers through this effort? If so, what are the numbers? And how do they define potential customers?

  3. Melissa, I think there is a lot to be said for prospecting in this digital century. By going back and picking the best ways to build trust, relevance, and authenticity Ford is looking to a future sale. Nothing wrong with immediate gratification, but I love the strategy and message.

    1. I definitely agree that Ford is looking to build, let’s say a future, with this audience. And I feel like this has been in the works for awhile. I mean, look at the Ford Fiesta … it’s super cute, fun, and sporty. It appeals to a younger audience, just as the InFocus campaign appeals to female drivers.

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