Monday, December 13, 2010

Introducing The New Ford Fiesta

          Introducing the new Ford Fiesta  ads are cropping up here and there in North America.  Where have I heard that before?
          Those words summon up a year and a half of my life devoted to drama, chaos, confusion, and pain. Running back and forth across Europe and back and forth across the Atlantic. 

         Seems like a lifetime ago Ford was introducing a new small car called the Fiesta in Europe.
          Ford had never built a car for this end of the market before.  Little cars were 25 % of the market, so a big deal. Especially for Ford; they'd spent billions on a new 3 mile long plant in Valencia, Spain to build their new little car.  It was a huge gamble.   Needless to say they were not relaxed about what their advertising would be.

           They would do lot of advertising.  But just what it would be was up to our Creative Teams in Frankfurt (Ford of Germany) Paris (Ford of France) Italy (yes, Ford of Italy) and Spain (Ford of Spain.)  Each country wanted their own stuff, and Ford of Europe wanted everybody to run the same campaign. We had a year and a half to put it all together.  We produced hundreds of campaigns, storyboards, print ads, billboards for all of them.  And they were all turned down.  The photo on the left makes it look like creative director Judd is talking to head writer Grant Montserrat, while the gent in the tie, JWT Europe chief Dennis Lanigan, listens in.

But, as the picture on the right reveals,  I'm really talking to the local creative director's girlfriend, Marjory, whose body language says I could use a lot more deodorant.

          Ford had a bureaucracy devoted to the marketing of the new little car, and there was no way they would ever say, until the very last possible second, "yes, great idea. That’s the campaign." Because if they did, they'd have nothing to do. And their bosses would say, "what else have you got?" So we churned out the campaigns, and Ford would say in various and angry ways, "crap."

           My partner, Art Director Sven Mohr and I were the Creative Directors of the project. Theoretically responsible for the whole shebang. We were the hot-shots, the young Turks, the ones who could come up with the revolutionary, brilliant, amazing stuff.

            Which we did.  And all of it went into the trash.

             One hot afternoon we were coming back from a shoot in southern Spain in the mountains somewhere west of Gibraltar. We were in the back of a taxi pounding over on thirty miles of potholes and dust. We were hot, tired and sweating, heading for meetings in London and Frankfurt.

   We'd had no sleep, no breakfast, no lunch, and we were both catatonic, exhausted.  Our meetings promised, as they all did, catastrophe.  I turned to Sven and said, "you know, when this is all over we are really going to miss it."

      We did.  Combat is addictive. Even when you know the war is pointless, the drama is real.

     So after  two year’s flat out effort, millions of dollars in travel, experimental shoots, dozens of writers, art directors and producers working non-stop to produce fresh, memorable, prize winning advertising what was the winning theme?  What was the great campaign that ran all across Europe to introduce the new Ford Fiesta.

                Oh rats, I’ve given it away.  'Cause that’s what the billboards said, “Introducing The New Ford Fiesta.” Looks like that's what they're still saying in their PR.

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