Posted by: David Kiley on April 17, 2007
If you hire writer-director David Mamet to handle your commercial for a new SUV as Ford did, the result you can expect is that the ad will go something like this: “Ford *&^%$# Edge. You are *&^%$@ed up if you don’t buy one.”
Perhaps that is overkill. But of you have ever seen Mamet’s classic “Glengarry Glen Ross,” you might not think so. In fact, I was shocked when a Ford rep told me last week that the automaker had hired the A-List director for an ad that compared the Edge SUV to the BMW X5 and Lexus RC350. Mamet for an image ad, maybe. But Mamet for a comparison ad? What’s next? Martin Scorsese for a TV spot for the Lincoln Town Car, which old-school gangsters still like as much they do veal and grappa.
The two TV ads, which break tonight on American Idol, continue an ad strategy thata Ford began in January. The first of these ads featured subscribers of Car and Driver in a driving event at which they drove the Fusion sedan against a Toyota Camry. The real people said the Fusion was styled better and handled better than the imports. The second ad was for the Ford Expedition, which compared its interior package—fold-away third row seats— to the segment leader, the Chevy Suburban and Tahoe, which have third-row seats that have to be physically removed.
The Edge ads feature two somewhat shady looking, cool 35 to 45ish dudes—think guys who subscribe to Esquire as well as Army Times—in their Edges. They pull up to one another on a dark street, having come from opposite directions. The older of the two, in one spot, tells the younger that the Edge beat the BMW X5 in a speed test by 0.2 seconds. In the second spot, he tells the younger guy that the Edge beat the Lexus Rx350 in a “quiet test.” The two banter. The camera shots zoom tight on their faces, their mouths, their eyes. The effect is, as you’d expect from Mamet, somewhat cinematic, like a movie instead of a TV ad.
I have to say that these ads are somewhat more attention grabbing than the series of Edge ads that have been running, which show the Edge riding along the edge of a building and the like. It’s somewhat gawdy special effects stuff that doesn’t do much in my book to increase consideration for a brand new model name with which most people aren’t yet familiar.
The Edge is a classy design. Ford did almost everything right on the vehicle, and it costs about $10,000 out the door less than the Lexus. Ford needs to up the consideration of this vehicle in a big way. According to Edmunds.com., consideration has been running at about 9%. That’s the percentage of people shopping for a mid-sized or large crossover that considered an Edge. That is well below another brand new model, GMC’s Acadia, and Saturn Outlook, both of which are being considered by 17.5% despite launching well after the Edge.
The difference in tone and execution between the Mamet ads and the ads that have been supporting the Edge the last several months is the difference between Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross and Alec Baldwin in Prelude To A Kiss. If I were Ford, I’d stay on Mamet’s dance-card. You better &^%$#@ believe it.!