Ford signals a return to auto production in a new ad campaign

  • Ford Motor is signaling that it’s returning to vehicle production next week with a new ad campaign.
  • The automaker is expected to begin restarting North American production on Monday after shuttering its plants in late March due to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The campaign shows how Ford workers pivoted to manufacturing medical supplies, and is meant to ”[honor] the resilience of a nation ready to face the challenges of returning to work.”

Ford Motor is out with a new ad campaign, highlighting the company’s work building equipment for health-care workers and indicating that’s is ready to resume auto production.

Three new ad spots, which share the “Built for America” message, show the automaker developing medical supplies, including respirators and ventilators. The company is readying for a phased restart to North American vehicle production on Monday after its plants were shuttered in late March due to the coronavirus.

The company, which said its parts distribution centers resumed full operations in North America this week, says it’s bringing back approximately 12,000 employees who are not able to do their jobs off site. The campaign shows how Ford workers pivoted to begin creating medical supplies, and is meant to ”[honor] the resilience of a nation ready to face the challenges of returning to work.”

Ford “Built for America” ad.

Ford worked with agency Wieden + Kennedy on the campaign, which includes the commercials and social media assets. The campaign, featuring the voice of actor Bryan Cranston, will go live on Ford’s social platforms Wednesday afternoon and on TV over the next two days, the company said.

“Collectively, as a country, as we go through a crisis, it’s been really impressive how resilient and strong and flexible U.S. workers have been,” Kumar Galhotra, Ford’s president for the Americas and International Markets Group, told CNBC. “We simply want to honor them with this campaign and strike a note of optimism as the country gets back to work after this difficult period.”

After its plants were shuttered, Ford announced it would produce personal protective equipment and other supplies for health-care workers to combat Covid-19. The company said it has produced more than 400,000 reusable surgical gowns manufactured from materials used to make airbags and other durable fabrics. Last week, it started delivering powered air purifying respirators, designed by Ford, to frontline health workers.

Additionally, General Electric and Ford are expected to produce 50,000 ventilators for the U.S. government, under the Defense Production Act, for $336 million.

Galhotra said the PPE production will continue in the near future “as long as the country needs it.” He said those facilities were created within its factories, but operate completely outside its normal production structure.

While many marketers shift budgets away from TV, Ford’s director of U.S. marketing Matt VanDyke said the reach and viewership of television is at a high right now.

“You see the ratings that we’ve been getting on the media that we had kept in place during a crisis, initially, ratings were up 50%, 200% in news programming and other areas,” he said. “While so much of our programming was lost due to March Madness going away and live sports not happening, the media that is left, whether it be linear television or even digital and other streaming, has performed so well. It’s really about reaching our audience where they’re consuming media.”

The campaign also includes new footage, which the company mixed with archival footage, in a way that followed safety guidelines.

“Instead of tech people and lighting crews and camera operators and gaffers,” VanDyke said, “you’re talking basically about a camera person and a mic operator and maybe a director.”

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