Brands Go From Patron To Producer

Webisodes are all the rage for brands wanting to connect with customers via original content, but what if the customers in question aren’t wired into high speed Internet, or predisposed to watch content on the Web?
According to Ad Age, Ford Motor Co. has some of these customers in rural Argentina and the brand found a compelling way to reach them.

Tapping into Latin America’s literary tradition of magic realism, Ford Motor Co. is bringing wondrous tales along with trucks to little-used theaters in rural Argentina.
Ford created a website where people could post the stories, legends and fables passed down in the oral tradition of the countryside, similar to the way a Ford Ranger may be handed from one family member to another, said Pablo Alvarez Travieso, JWT’s other co-chief creative director.
From more than 1,000 tales submitted, 10 were shortlisted, and a final 3 were chosen to be transformed into 25-minute plays by playwrights hired for the job. Ford and JWT produced the plays and took them to four towns in the province of Buenos Aires ranging in size from 35,000 to 170,000 people. Local Ford dealers helped bring in the audience, with an average of 500 to 800 people, to watch all three plays in a single performance.
“It’s a very expensive way of reaching people, more expensive than a TV spot, but it’s a high-quality contact we needed to have,” Ricardo Flaminni, Ford’s marketing manager said of Ford’s foray into rural theater. “And we performed very well, both in top-of-mind and sales.”

I can’t overstate how happy I am to see this type of campaign from Ford. Powerful brands like Ford can bring so much more than a pitch to the table, and in this case they have.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.