What would your first reaction be if a company, trying to sell you a product, decided to scare you out of your wits? Maybe you’d fire off an angry e-mail, complain about it on Twitter, or simply avoid that company like the plague, right?
Well, what about if the company decided to scare someone else for your enjoyment? You don’t have to provide an answer to that one, because the public has already spoken.
Last week, Ford got into the Halloween spirit by finding 30 strangers, asking if they’d participate in a filmed test drive, and then instructing them to go through a specific car wash on the way to the shoot. The car wash just so happened to be set up as a comfortable home for zombies and demons, sending the oblivious reviewers into a screaming frenzy. Check out the video here:
The ad has already racked up over a million views on YouTube and was celebrated as AdWeek’s “Ad of the Day”.
There was none of the cliche car ad elements: no winding hills, no babies for the car’s intelligent braking systems to protect, no price comparison to competitors.
As Brook Johnston, a copywriter at Toronto’s brand agency FUSE Marketing Group, said, “The Ford stunt is fun. But what does it say about the brand or the specific vehicle? You don’t always need a direct tie, but it helps. A much better example was LG’s “Meteor” prank [linked here] because it paid off on the brand’s promise: screens so clear, you’ll think it’s real life. There’s connective tissue there. It makes sense.”
“That being said, it does take some cajones to freak people out courtesy of your brand,” Johnston says in an e-mail. “A lot of clients are way too terrified (of both the logistics and legalities) to actually try and bring one of these ideas to life. So you have to give them kudos for being brave enough to do it – if they do it well, that is.”
Ford stands out as a shining example of doing it well, and was successful in producing viral content under the banner of a mega-corporation, something often sought after but rarely executed.