"By the way, if anyone here is in advertising or marketing, kill yourself."
That's how one of my all-time favorite Bill Hicks routines starts, and I couldn't help but think of it when I read this article in The New York Times about a recent nifty/nefarious marketing trick pulled by Ford. Over the past eight weeks, says The Times, Ford has been filming new ad spots for their cars in Miami, New York, Los Angeles and right here in Dallas.
But they weren't over at the Studios at Las Colinas. They were in your garage. And you didn't even know it. Disguising themselves as a fake market research firm, Ford's ad house, JWT Team Detroit, got car buyers to temporarily trade their new Nissans and Hondas for Fords. They then recorded the presumably honest reactions of the drivers, who spent a week with their "Swap My Ride" ad campaign cars. A JWT rep is quoted as saying, "We needed a trick to get real objectivity and honest responses.”
Watch the behind-the-scenes bit on the "Swap My Ride" site, and you can practically see the smug Ford spokesman's self-congratulating smile while his voice-over oozes, "They had no clue we were even filming a commercial." He may as well have followed with, "We are so fucking smooth, man."
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When The Times tried to contact some "Swap My Ride" participants, they found that some of them still have no idea they've pimped Fords, as the first commercials just went online yesterday. Says the article: "Participants were still not aware over the weekend that the Fords they were driving were part of a marketing project."
I'd like to talk to anyone here in Dallas who participated in "Swap My Ride" and get their thoughts on being tricked by Ford -- and find out whether or not unknowing pimpers get to approve their national TV appearances before they air. Are you out there? Drop me an e-mail. --Andrea Grimes
Bonus video: Bill Hicks' marketing bit.