Why is Ford suddenly advertising its Focus Electric after 3 years?

Ford’s Workplace Charging Network

Many EVangelists believe that the plodding progress of plug-in sales has a lot to do with the automakers’ minimal marketing efforts. So it’s welcome news that Ford has launched a new ad campaign for its Focus Electric.

It seems to be a substantial buy (although Ford declined to talk about budgets), with TV ads running in eight major US metro areas on a wide variety of different types of programs, and print ads running in newspapers and several categories of magazines.

However, it is a bit puzzling that Ford has chosen this moment to start advertising a car that went on sale in early 2012 (yes, these are the very first TV ads for the EV, according to PR firm Ogilvy). When we drove the Focus Electric, we found it to be a good entry-level EV, but it has had no major upgrade since its launch.

While competitors including Nissan and GM are developing improved versions of their EVs, with greatly increased range, Ford has made no mention of plans for a next-gen EV (despite your correspondent’s best efforts at a recent conference to badger Ford execs into saying something – anything – about EVs).

Why is little Cinderella being belatedly invited to the ball?

EV expert Chelsea Sexton, who often seems to have the inside scoop, opines that this is a “halo” ad, meant to establish Ford’s green credentials so it can get on with the business of selling customers the trucks and SUVs that they really want. This is borne out by the fact that the TV ad is actually half an ad – a fifteen-second spot that runs together with a spot for another Ford vehicle. It’s all part of a larger Ford campaign called By Design.

Sexton points out that Ford does need more CARB and CAFE credits, and that beginning in 2018, the CARB ZEV program will require automakers to actually sell EVs, not just offer them. “We will see some companies trying sincerely to do that, and some putting a lot of effort behind looking like they tried.”


Source: Ford via Ogilvy Public Relations

  • http://www.electricshowroom.com Collin Burnell

    The Focus Electric needs very little upgrade. I have 14k miles on mine and I am still in love with the car. If I were tasked with improving the car, certainly the main focus (pun intended) would be battery capacity. Secondary improvements would be to shift some of the battery weight into the front of the vehicle and to somehow create a bit more space for the driver. (mostly with a smaller, better designed for organization, center console).

  • Rich

    The ad is questionable at best. They show a powerful car sliding to a charger in the middle of the desert. The guy plugs it in a starts walking into the desert.
    What are they trying to convey? That the buyer of this car will have to drive to the middle of nowhere to charge and will be left there for an extended period of time with nothing to do.

    • http://www.electricshowroom.com Collin Burnell

      And the ad does not say “Ford Focus Electric”. Does it?

    • Food4Thought

      Nice Interpretation 🙂 What they could show is how an oil-funded middle east ‘misappropriates’ oil $$ to fund terrorism and all of the other nastiness that comes from the region. Would 9/11 have been possible if not for the wealth of Bin Laden? And would he have been wealthy if not for Saudi Arabia’s oil wealth?

  • Bruce Westlake

    It is quite possible that this is a continuation of the ‘We will build what the customer wants’ Ford program that shows they invest in advertising but still the customer doesn’t buy the vehicle. The fact that there are no vehicles to buy at dealers is, of course omitted from the facts. As a Focus electric owner, I can say that the Focus and Leaf are about as close in specs as any two cars, yet a Ford dealer sells 3-4 in 3 years while the Nissan dealer across the street averages over 20 per month over the same 3 years.

  • Electric Bill

    This is disappointing. I see it, as Chelsea describes, an effort to look like they are making an effort. It reminds me of the EV-1 ads of many years ago that never used the common, successful combination of close-up, wide-angle shots and exhuberant, energetic youths, such as at a tailgating party or the beach or entertainment venues– they went completely in the opposite direction, with stately old folk, long shots, and long distances… you really saw little of the actual car… riding in silhouette across a country hill… so that rather than being impressed with a car, you were impressed with the cinematography– kind of a promotional bait-and-switch. Yes, you liked the ad, but it did nothing to make you want the car.