Ford launches ‘By Design’ ad campaign for cars

Ford has used its “Built Ford Tough” tagline and associated campaigns to market its trucks for years, but the company hasn’t developed a similar mantra for its car line — until now, that is.

The carmaker is launching a new ad campaign and slogan called “By Design” to highlight its cars. Ford says this is the first time it has done a dedicated ad campaign for cars, and that “By Design” will serve as the car equivalent to “Built Ford Tough.” The ads are also the first to feature a new version of the Ford script that’s remained mostly unchanged since the days of Henry Ford.

Video ads for the Focus RS, Focus Electric, Mustang, and Fusion feature a tagline for each car, playing into the “By Design” theme. There are also trippy visuals, like a wave of blue paint flowing around a Fusion, or a model holding a microphone up to a Mustang’s exhaust. If the truck campaign is all about “toughness,” this one seems to be about the subjective qualities — like style, sound, and driving fun — that make cars appealing.

Brand-wide advertising slogans can have a powerful effect. BMW is still clinging to “The Ultimate Driving Machine” even as it pushes an increasingly-bizarre array of crossovers and hatchbacks, and Chevy’s “Like a Rock” truck campaign touched everyone’s inner redneck. Ford once had a winner in “Total Performance,” a line backed up by its commitment to racing and muscle cars in the 1960s.

Only time will tell how “By Design” fares, but making a dedicated effort to promote cars in the same unified manner as trucks could benefit Ford. U.S. carmakers have long been criticized for focusing too much on big trucks and SUVs, while foreign brands continue to rule the car segments. Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler have made significant progress in this area in recent years, but there’s still more to be done.