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We’re democratising safety: Rahul Gautam on Ford campaign

Ford India, which had inspired many with its ‘Rakhi’ and ‘Myth Conception’ campaigns, recently rolled out yet another thought-provoking TVC – this time on Safety. Created by WPP’s Global Team Blue, the campaign focuses on how safety should not be a choice but a priority while customers decide to buy a car, and finds its roots in the research which shows how safety in car buying decisions play second fiddle to every other parameter – be it looks or mileage and even convenience features. The TVC targets all key genres on TV and also has significant digital and social presence. 

The fact that more than two-thirds (70 per cent) of close to 22,000 respondents of a survey by Ford India didn’t consider safety as an important consideration while buying a vehicle proves the trend. 

Commenting on the campaign, Rahul Gautam, VP - Marketing, Ford India, said, “Sixty years ago, Ford was the first automaker to offer factory-installed safety belts, and our legacy of safety innovation endures to this day. Today in India, we are making sure that all our products with six-seven airbags are available at an affordable price. While we make safety accessible, and affordable across segments, with the latest campaign we want customers to prioritize it too for the sake of their loved ones.” 

The TVC, titled ‘The Uncomfortable Question’, features a conversation between a doting father and his curious daughter as they go for a ride in their new Ford EcoSport. While the father familiarises the daughter with a long list of Ford EcoSport’s features, the anxious daughter raises a pertinent question – how will he ensure her safety in the rear seat? The confident father, being happy with his choice, assures the daughter with the proven safety credentials of his EcoSport that boasts of six airbags for complete all-around protection. The underpinning message in the commercial urges car buyers to make safety a top consideration in their purchase journey and choose a vehicle that priorities complete protection of their loved ones. 

Watch the TVC:

 

 

Insight behind the campaign 

Shedding further light on the insight behind the campaign, Gautam said, “Despite one of the lowest vehicle penetrations, India has the highest road fatalities in the world, and as per reports, 11 per cent of all road accidents result in a fatality in our country. While these startling facts are common knowledge, automotive safety continues to lag behind everything else – from looks to mileage and even convenience features – in influencing car-buying decisions. The findings of a recent Twitter poll done by Ford suggest that more than two-thirds (70 per cent) of about 22,000 respondents didn’t rate safety as a top consideration while buying car points. There has to be a change in mindset. It is a priority for us as a manufacturer, but likewise, it has to be the top priority for the consumer. I understand that affordability could be a concern, but we make sure all our products with six airbags are available at an affordable price. We are making it accessible, affordable and democratising across segments. With our latest campaign, we want to address consumers at large and communicate that safety should not be a choice but a priority.” 

Campaign brief 

The brief shared with the agency was to highlight safety as a key proposition for Ford, under the brand promise of ‘Feels Like Family’. With safety often been overlooked for design or discounts, the creative brief was to establish safety as a key decider. The campaign seeks to make customers aware about safety at large as well as communicate Ford’s differentiators with up to seven airbags across its range.  

When quizzed about what new the brand was aiming to convey with the latest brand communication, Gautam highlighted that 60 years ago, Ford was the first automaker to offer factory-installed safety belts, and the brand’s legacy of safety innovation endures to this day. “As a company, we are providing safety features in our cars, not because we have to but because we want and see it as our responsibility. That’s why our vehicles today boast of several class-leading and segment first features for their all-around protection. Besides being built strong, our cars today ensure unmatched levels of safety with advanced equipment such as EBD, Hill Launch Assist, MyKey and Traction Control & ESP to keep vehicle occupants safe. With our latest campaign, we want to address consumers at large and communicate that safety should not be a choice but a priority while deciding on a car purchase.” 

Safety as a marketing peg 

“Safety is a priority for us at Ford, and the campaign reflects our ongoing commitment. Right from the design phase to everything that we put in is centered around how our cars can be safer, especially meeting or beating the norms prevailing in the market,” stressed Gautam when asked how is Ford trying to promote ‘safety’ as the new proposition apart from the campaign. “Besides, there’s a lot of technology which is going to make our vehicles safer, features like Sync (keeping your hands on the wheel, eyes on the road), My Key. We are bringing them to the market much ahead of time. And again, we are doing that by not differentiating by the segment but across the portfolio. We are democratising – that’s our philosophy when it comes to safety. Today, we are the only vehicle manufacturer to provide up to seven airbags across our range of products. We take the safety of our customers seriously and want the customers to prioritise it the same way. The new campaign will compel customers to ask the difficult questions and prioritise the safety of their loved ones above everything else.” 

Commenting on how Ford’s communication strategy for the India market has evolved over the years, Gautam observed that Ford has been at the forefront of embracing change and meeting customers’ needs, both with its products as well as communication mediums. That’s why Ford was one of the first companies to adopt a digital first strategy, ensuring that the brand is not just accessible but is also directly interacting with consumers on a real-time basis. 

The share of digital and social communication, which is fast emerging as a preferred communication tool for most consumers, has been steadily growing in our communication strategy. “We are previewing most of what we do on digital media and social channels first. While adopting a digital-first strategy, we still believe in the power of integrated communication, and all our campaigns are leveraged through an optimum mix of multiple paid, owned and earned media channels including social, digital, television, print, radio, and mobile,” he said. 

“While Government policies and regulations evolve, we are ahead of the curve and are providing safety features, not because we have to but because we see it as our responsibility. Your safety is our priority and thus, the Ford portfolio in India today comes equipped with advanced safety features such as ABS, EBD, side and curtain airbags as well as industry-first knee airbag, making it up to seven to keep vehicle occupants safe,” added Gautam. 

Conveying an important message, the campaign will follow an integrated communication approach and optimally leverage all paid, owned and earned media channels including social, digital, television, print, radio and mobile for the campaigns. 

Agency speak 

Giving the agency’s perspective on the campaign thought process, Sachin Ambekar, Vice President & Executive Creative Director, Global Team Blue, commented, “We find that people in India are extremely protective when it comes to the family. They use every means to protect them. With the help of this campaign, we are pushing consumers to think hard and evaluate the choices they make when it comes to car purchase as well. In this TVC as well the confident father, being happy with his choice, assures his daughter with the proven safety credentials of his EcoSport that boasts of six airbags for complete all-around protection. An assured smile replaces the daughter’s confused expression after hearing her father’s reassuring words on how he has prioritised her safety.” 

“With both ‘Rakhi’ and ‘Safety’ campaigns, we have always communicated that safety is a priority for us at Ford. From the very beginning, what we have focused is on how we are meeting industry standards,” Ambekar further said, while sharing how ‘The Uncomfortable Question’ is different in its conception than Ford’s previous campaigns. “While the ‘Rakhi’ campaign is more about taking the safety of our customers seriously with up to six airbags onboard a Ford EcoSport, through the ‘Safety’ campaign we are pushing consumers at large to think hard and evaluate the choices they make, especially when it comes to car purchase.” 

Creative credits: 

Sachin Ambekar, VP & Executive Creative Director

Tejaswi Nainwal, Creative Director

Supriya Berry, Creative Director

Shashwat Rawat, Creative Supervisor

Vijay Bhaskar, VP & Client Services Director

Paras Johar, AVP & Client Services Director

Gurpriet Kaur, Account Director

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