Ford shifts to local advertising as it looks to become more ‘British-centric’

The car marque says all of its future ads will be made in the UK and tailored specifically to the British market, but insists it has nothing to do with being nationalistic or Brexit.

Ford is changing its ads to become more Britain-focused in a bid to “dial up work that really resonates” with consumers.

The car marque launched a new campaign in collaboration with its agency network GTB UK for the new Ford Fiesta model earlier this month, featuring British actor Keeley Hawes. The ad looks to tell the story of Britain’s day-to-day progress over the last 40 years, charting the time since the car first appeared on Britain’s roads.

The spot cuts through a variety of common every day British scenes from the high street to the class room, while showcasing how people, society and technology has evolved over time.

The campaign also features a new endline, ‘Together we go further’, which Ford says “positions the brand as a partner in Britain’s story of progress”. Besides the TV spot, there will also be more above-the-line activity including outdoor, as well as social and online activations.

The campaign marks a shift in strategy for Ford and its approach to advertising. Instead of creating ads for Europe and then simply tailoring them to a local market, all ads will now be developed and shot in Britain, and include “British sensibilities”.

Speaking to Marketing Week, communications manager for Ford of Britain, Richard Beard, says this was decided after a “long review” within the UK and European teams, which led Ford to conclude it needs ads that are very “British-centric” so that it can “properly” connect with UK audiences.

“This is in no way nationalistic, it’s just that people take more from an ad if it has references that they’re used to and comfortable with. We’re [normally] really happy if our ads are used in other countries like Finland, but I don’t expect many will be taken due to the British references. But this is fine, as it is specifically made for our audience,” he says.

Beard adds the decision was also made due to the size of the UK market, which he says is Ford’s third biggest in Europe after Italy and Germany.

“Sometimes it’s great to have the economy of scale and launch an ad [in multiple markets], but recently there has been an understanding that we need to dial up work that really resonates with our consumers,” he explains.

When asked if the brand decided to go down this route following Brexit, Beard instantly denies this claim and says the “genesis of this work” started a couple of years before the referendum. Other big markets are also looking to do the same thing, he says.

“It was a discussion we were having two to three years ago. It is not about flag waving or being political, and has nothing to do with Brexit. And there are other markets, notably Germany, which are doing the same thing. It’s not a political statement, it’s simply the best thing for our biggest markets,” he concludes.