Bring Back The Frogs

Business Week’s David Kiley is not fond of the new corporate ad campaign from Ford Motor Co. starring chairman and CEO Bill Ford.

In the ads, Bill Ford, the great-grandson of company founder Henry Ford who took control of the company in October 2001, casually sits on a stool in a design studio and talks about the company’s commitment to “driving innovation.” In fact, the vanilla theme of the campaign is “Driving American Innovation.” Apparently, some other company had the copyrights to “Driving A New American Paradigm.” The first problem with the ads is that any company selling a product or service could have claimed this line. If the line can relate to any company then why spend hard earned money on it. Paging the copywriters! Who wrote this? Bill’s chauffer?

In a related move, Anheuser-Busch is using Auggie Busch V in new TV spots.
Who is responsible for these brilliant ideas? The agencies? I highly doubt it. Yet, they are culpable, nonetheless. For surely, they did little to resist. Doing so, would take a spine. And with Ford or Bud as your client, only the most cavalier among us would dare to grow a backbone.
Everyone loses here. The generational titans lose, for they do not belong in front of a TV camera, hocking their wares like Fast Eddie. Their companies lose becasue such work diminishes the brand. The agencies lose because they continue to lower their own bar, and the industry’s, as well. The consumer loses because there’s nothing there for them to latch onto.



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.