Why Ford made a smoothie

Who: Ford, with BBDO.

What: The “2021 Ford Smoothie,” an iced beverage made with plant-based ingredients that Ford is either using or experimenting with in its cars.

When & Where: The campaign began in late October with digital, social and OOH wild postings, along with influencer outreach. The cornerstone of the campaign is FordSmoothie.com where people could order an actual Ford Smoothie for delivery on Oct. 27 and Nov. 3, get the recipe to make their own, and learn more about some of Ford’s use of plant-based ingredients.

Why: It’s demonstrating Ford’s commitment to using more sustainable practices in the manufacturing of its cars and trucks, but in a more memorable way. “We actually created a Ford that you can drink,” said Max Geraldo, chief creative officer of BBDO. “Because if it is good for you, it is certainly good for the planet.”

Ford and BBDO want people to connect the different ingredients being used for their smoothie to the way Ford is making vehicles that are better for the planet. They could tell people in an ad (and they do), but when you turn those sustainable materials into a drink, the connection between brand and consumer is unique. “That’s a different emotional experience with a Ford,” said Geraldo. “You have like a sensorial experience with a Ford.”

How: The limited-edition Smoothies were made from a handful of ingredients that are being used in various ways by Ford. For example, coconut fibres in trunk mats, rice hulls in electrical systems, and soy foam in every car seat. Ford is also experimenting with orange peels, agave and prickly pear (see the ingredient list, right).

The awareness for the Ford Smoothie was driven by the digital/social ads and wild postings, along with a 60-second animated spot that is equally non-traditional for the Ford brand (see it below). Demand was so great that the Ford Smoothies were quickly snapped up on both days they were available. BBDO is working on producing and distributing another batch.

The Ford Smoothie is a way to present Ford as a modern, innovative brand working hard to change traditional thinking about the company, said Geraldo. “How can we express how progressive Ford is, if we’re not being progressive in the way we communicate what the brand is about.”

But the Ford Smoothie is not different just for the sake of being different, either. It’s different in a way that is connected to what Ford wants to be known for, he said. “The objective is to be unexpected, but when you connect the dots it all makes sense,” he said. “It’s the brief expressed in something physical.”

A younger target demo: Ford Smoothie is part of a strategy to refresh the brand with a younger audience, in particular. “We need to be present in younger audiences lives in the way that resonates for them,” he said. “This is a way to create that memorability, this initial connection. So every time that this younger audience sees a Ford, our expectations is that that they see it in a different way.”

And we quote: “My dream is to keep making more and more,” said Geraldo. “Maybe in the future we can even launch different flavours, you can launch different combinations and recipes, you can take that current thing and make it even bigger.”

David Brown