Relaunching the Ford Bronco after 25 years

After 25 years the Ford Bronco is back for 2021. The model was discontinued in 1996 after the market shifted, to make room for a new breed of over-sized family SUVs that allowed suburbanites to feel like they weren’t over the hill. No, it was not discontinued because of OJ, but it’s a common assumption.

They had a lot to cover to make this relaunch a success.

  1. Connecting the new model to its storied history as “America’s first SUV” and educating the audience about that history? Check.
  2. Authentically tapping into the spirit of adventure and escapism that defines the category? Check.
  3. Triggering the public’s wanderlust after being cooped up for months by Covid? Check
  4. Embodying the power and rugged emotionality of wild horses and the Great American West? Check.
  5. Shrugging off Ford’s weak “Ford-Focus” image. Check.

The copywriters had a field day in the ads, with gems like:

  1. Literally calling the vehicle a “horse”.
  2. “You need something that can look adventure in the eye, and give it a firm handshake.”
  3. You need something that’s not happy until it takes you through whatever creek or snow or mud or mountain trail or dune or logging road or landmark with death in its name. You need a Bronco.”
  4. “Built as wild as what you’re looking for.”

To Dos:

Launch it like it’s the blockbuster event of the summer

OPENING LINE: “There’s still some wild out there…”

Explain why it’s the antidote to the disappointment of the American mythology’s unfulfilled promise of a life of adventure

OPENING LINE: “This country has a strange relationship with the wild. As much as we talk about it, and paint paintings of it, and sing songs about how we’re destined to be it, we seem to spend every waking hour in places that keep us away from it… so to get back to the wild, we need something built for it.”

Tap into our primal instincts of auditory association

Show audiences the R&D

Show off your history / remind people you’re a legend

Use the old to sell the new






Make it a lifestyle

Get the nerds to geek out on features


Ford Press Release:

“Academy Award-winning director and acclaimed cinematographer, photographer and professional climber, Jimmy Chin, collaborated with Disney CreativeWorks, Disney’s award-winning creative agency, to co-create network reveal stories with the Ford team.”

From Tech Crunch:

The launch of the Bronco looks to be a masterclass in nostalgia. For the last few weeks, Ford has been feeding journalists with media assets — pictures, staged interviews and upcoming advertisements. I’ve yet to see the full vehicle because in the end, Ford is not relying on the Bronco itself to drive sales, but rather, is digging deep into the power of nostalgia to move the Bronco off lots.

Recalling the past can help companies develop a unified theme around a product or service. In this case with the Bronco, only recalling part of the past helps companies dial in messaging. With Ford, the company wants consumers in agreement: This is a tough vehicle and it’s always been a tough vehicle. Forget about OJ, these adverts say. Instead, look at how the Bronco was used by two burly men bounding over the rolling hills of a cattle ranch. Ford is digging deep into American lore to show the Bronco as a rugged conqueror of the frontier instead of a conqueror of parking lot flowerbeds.

Why it’s hot:

They treated the relaunch like a summer blockbuster, teasing it for weeks.

They let viewers in on the R & D process and let the car nerds talk it up.

They connected to powerful auditory sensations in ads.

They showed us all the places we wish we could go, tapping into our pent-up covid wander lust.

They re-worked their famous tagline just for this: From Built Ford Tough to BUILT WILD

The Ford logo is nowhere to be found, even on the vehicle itself. This is all about the BRONCO franchise.

They built an affinity community around it with tons of features to make it a lifestyle.

Source: Twitter, Ford, Tech Crunch


this year in search…

If you’ve never seen Google’s annual year in review, let that end now.

There isn’t much to say about this video that it doesn’t say for itself, but each year, Google analyzes what terms spiked that year vs. the previous year, and compiles all the moments/people/content/etc. related to those things into two minutes that help us reflect on the 12 months we just experienced.

This year, Google trends determined that people searched for “good” more than anything else.

Why It’s Hot:

From a human standpoint, it’s an important reminder that in a year with many downs, it was the ups we sought out most. But from a marketing standpoint, it’s a great example of transforming data into emotional storytelling. Data isn’t just numbers, it’s a story waiting to be told.


Cellphones as a literal lifeline

Many refugees consider smartphones instrumental in their journey to safety. Google Maps helps them navigate across the sea. Translation apps provide a rudimentary understanding of the language in new lands. WhatsApp and Viber allow them to chat with loved ones back home.

And almost everyone carries photos of the family and friends left behind.

Photojournalist Grey Hutton photographed dozens of refugees and their phones at a refugee center in Berlin for VICE Germany. The idea for the project came to him after reading complaints about refugees carrying smartphones.

Refugee Selfie

Why It’s Hot
In our current political and cultural environment where debate about refugees and illegal immigrants rages, it’s great to see technology used as both a tool to help people in need and one that humanize those in need to create greater empathy.

The future of VR filmmaking

I shared this with the Army team but if you haven’t seen it it’s worth watching. My Brother’s Keeper isn’t your typical VR movie. The PBS film, which premiered at Sundance last week, uses its period setting to show off several new filmmaking techniques, including the first 120 fps slow-motion recording in VR and the use of a customized action camera rig.

Why It’s Hot

We’ve all seen VR/360 video examples with lots of bells and whistles. But very often the techniques eclipse the story. As Engadget described “…most important, it uses all of that technical wizardry to craft a genuinely moving story.” When form and function meet art and heart.

The Power of Storytelling without Words

HSBC Travels 40 Years in One Remarkable Elevator Ride

The spot from Grey-London portrays one man’s 40-year ride to the top – not without bumps- encapsulated completely within one elevator ride.  The genius of it is that, without dialogue or caption, it conveys a story brilliantly in which we are allowed to fill in (or assume) the details.

The tie-in to the brand (HSBC) can also be perceived many ways, but it can be assumed that the journey of this brand, born in 1974, is personified by the one man’s trip ‘up’. It also shows the business from one man’s life from both sides – with personal and professional triumphs. At one point he is seen in conflict, another in defeat and others are life-milestones celebrated. Its a brave and well-crafted emotional roller coaster that keeps us involved and thirsty to know how it ends.


Why its Hot:

It’s a novel, effective style of storytelling that lets the audience fill in the blanks and promotes repeat viewings. (As Mad Men proved, you can get more drama out of elevator scenes than you might think.)  I can see such clever storytelling leveraged for a brand such as ETS, to portray, without verbose narration, how one young person who grasps opportunity, can have a very positive life change as we continue conversations around scaling up our use of more visual channels that utilize video. Leaving out words can create a more universal message and allow for acceptance across many cultures and markets as well. Well done!

Scrabble Tells a Delightful Love Story Entirely in Anagrams

When it comes to telling a brand story through anagrams, Lola Madrid’s new Scrabble spot tops them all.

The ad presents the stories of Agostina and Santiago. Though they’ve never met, anagrams link almost every aspect of their lives. She’s a “cab driver,” he’s a “crab diver.” She frets about being “forever alone,” while his life seems as dull as “a veneer floor.”

“The idea of using anagrams was a way to salute the intelligence of avid Scrabble players, but by using a love story, the spot became universal,” Lola executive creative director Pancho Cassis tells Adweek. “This communication was aimed at opening up to a broader audience, specifically younger players and non-players who spend a lot of time online but are seeking out offline experiences.”

Millennial word nerds will surely enjoy the ride and share the ad with friends.

Source: AdWeek

Why It’s Hot

We always talk about how to tell stories, even for the most emotion-less products. This clever approach is both cute and lovey, and spot on for the target audience. I find it inspiring!

Hardcore: The World’s First Full-POV Action Movie

After earning viral success for his music video a year ago, musician and filmmaker Ilya Naishuller has created a new film that takes POV filming techniques to a new level.

Dubbed “Hardcore,” the film is touted as the world’s first full-POV action movie, meaning as the viewer you are experiencing the cinematic world from a complete 1st-person perspective… as if you are inside the body of the hero. “Hardcore” was filmed entirely using GoPro cameras and features an international cast.

Watching the sneak-peek below (begins at the 4-minute mark), you find the experience like a “live” action video game.

Why It’s Hot

“Hardcore” may not be the best movie ever made, but that’s not why we’re talking about it. “Hardcore” shows that filmmakers, creatives and advertisers need to rethink how we tell brand stories and communicate product experiences. Technology has already created platforms that enable first-person experiences. Marketing needs to become more about experiencing the world around a product, not just a gimmicky way of seeing the product itself.

Brands in a Dash to Test Hyperlapse

Early this week, Instagram announced the release of Hyperlapse and already Instagrammers are flocking to the new video platform.  While some notable public figures like Jimmy Fallon have created videos using the app, major brands have already jumped on board to play with the platform’s creative new storytelling capabilities.

Hyperlapse is a standalone mobile application that allows users to easily create “cinema-like” time-lapse videos, that speed up the footage by up to 12x the original speed. Hyperlapse also features an image stablization algorithm to reduce the shakiness inherent to handheld videography.

Given the nature of time-lapse videos, a common theme among everyday users has been to capture transportation.  Trains, cars, even animal crossings can be made more amusing with Hyperlapse.

But for brands?  Hyperlapse becomes another tool in their storytelling arsenals. For instance brands like Foot Locker are showing new ways to “unbox” products, while Oreo has shown a new way to create branded “surprises” with their #minidelivery campaign.

Why It’s Hot

Hyperlapse is a new way for short-form video to enhance brands’ expressiveness digitally. As more brands adopt Hyperlapse, we will begin to see creativity flourish. While the likes of Oreo have made successful time-lapses purely about product, I more immediate application seems to be around “experience brands.”  Brands need to think about how Hyperlapse can help tell the story their customers can create with their brand, not just the showcasing a product at 12x speed.

Source: AdWeek and SocialFresh

Storytelling without distraction

Designers and researchers Alexis Hope and Kevin Hu from MIT Media Lab have created a tool called “Fold”, which enables contextual content creation – helping the reader focus on content at hand.

It works by offering the reader “curated tangents” so they no longer have to break away to Google to find explanations or definitions: see full story.


Why Its Hot?
If it takes off, it is a new way to craft journalism, helping their audience stay focused. Question is – what will it do to Advertising? The tool will be in beta this Summer 2014. To signup for updates go to Fold at MIT Media Lab.




How Important is Storytelling?

Earlier this week, AdAge honored the world’s best brand storytelling at the fifth annual Viral Video Awards in New York City. Together these videos drew hundreds of millions of views, and millions of shares. You can view the honorees here.


So just how important is storytelling in advertising? re able to get a prospect to pay attention. Storytelling enables us to capture that attention, whether it’s via traditional media, or digital and social advertising. s infinitely more moving than seeing how laundry detergent removes a coffee stain from a white dress shirt or a crash test dummy saved by an airbag. Stories wield power. They move our emotions, influence our behavior, shape our values, and affect our actions. Four suggestions for planning your story are to:

1) Establish your goal.
2) Understand your audience.
3) Know how you want your audience to feel.
4) Uncover what will elicit the feelings.

Check out more tips for moving from “marketing” to “storytelling”.


Why it’s hot

In today’s chaotic and distracting world, one in which we’re inundated all day everyday with advertising messages, a brand either gets remembered or forgotten. As we partner with our clients, from overall strategy down to tactical copy for social platforms, we need to remember how crucial the emotional connection is to our (and our client’s) success.