Ford Focus puts the squeeze on credits

So you're launching a new car into the Canadian marketplace. Naturally, you've got 30-second brand spots running in prime time, but you'd like to add some impact to the TV campaign. What do you do?...

So you’re launching a new car into the Canadian marketplace. Naturally, you’ve got 30-second brand spots running in prime time, but you’d like to add some impact to the TV campaign. What do you do?

Well, if you’re Ford Motor Company of Canada, you ask for a little squeeze.

Explanation: Many U.S. network shows end with what’s called a "squeeze" or a "pull-back." Essentially, the closing credits are squished into a box on one side of the screen. On the remainder of the screen, the broadcaster offers a preview of next week’s exciting episode, or spotlights the shows coming up later that same evening.

Last fall, as part of the launch campaign for a new vehicle called the Focus, Ford purchased some squeeze time from CTV, sponsoring the previews for a number of top-rated shows.

Among them was White House drama The West Wing. The preview would open with the words "Focus on The West Wing," and conclude with the campaign tagline, "Expect more." One of the Ford Focus brand-sell spots (created in Europe by Young & Rubicam) would then air immediately following the sponsored preview.

This unique strategy garnered more attention for the ads than they might have attracted on their own, says Michael Dougherty, vice-president, associate media director with The Media Edge in Toronto, which executed the Ford Focus plan.

The Focus is an entry-level car available in several different models – three-door, sedan and wagon. As such, it has more than one target purchaser: The three-door is aimed at first-time car buyers in the 18-34 range, while the sedan and wagon appeal more to the 25-54 age group.

In planning the campaign, The Media Edge sought the program properties that fit best with both of these audiences. Spots for the three-door, for instance, ran immediately after the Focus-sponsored previews of Ally McBeal. The wagon and sedan spots, meanwhile, followed previews of The West Wing, a show that attracts older viewers.

In addition to sponsoring program previews, Ford ran a Focus promotion tied to CTV’s prime time soap, The City, offering viewers the chance to win a trip to the Grammy Awards. The automaker has also partnered with MuchMusic, arranging for Focus to sponsor the latter’s SnowJob event.

The television strategy for the Quebec market has been quite similar. Ford Focus sponsored previews of Société Radio-Canada’s popular weekly serial, Virginie, and – as on CTV – followed those with 30-second brand-sell spots.

Ford also joined forces with TVA and the popular clothing chain Les Ailes de la Mode on a large-scale promotional program.

While the preview sponsorships and other promotional activities definitely succeeded in raising awareness of the Ford Focus advertising, Dougherty says that clients must always tread carefully when using such vehicles to heighten the impact of a brand campaign.

"I still think the core is the 30-second commercial," he says. "You have to be careful you don’t stray too far from that, or you end up spending more money on the promotion – and suddenly it’s only the promotion [that viewers] have awareness of."

Also in this report:

- Shorter formats a double-edged sword: By opting for spots of 15 seconds or less, advertisers can stretch their advertising dollar — but they may also be contributing to the problem of clutter p.TV1

- CCM arouses interest with sperm spot p.TV4

- Painting the smaller canvas: How creatives make their mark in 15 seconds or less p.TV4

- Red Rose resurrects brand with funeral spot: Retires ‘Only in Canada…’ tagline in favour of ‘A cup’ll do you good’ p.TV6

- Jetta campaign a brand-new love story: Automaker bids farewell to popular Phil and Loulou characters p.TV10

- Is TV worth the money? p.TV12

- BTV blurs line between editorial, advertorial: Companies featured on business show pay about $10,000 for repackaged material p.TV13

In Brief: The Garden picks CDs to take on daily creative leadership

Plus, Naked names two new leaders of its own and Digital Ethos comes to Canada.

The Garden promotes two creative directors

ACDs Lindsay Eady and Francheska Galloway-Davis have taken over responsibility for day-to-day creative leadership at The Garden after being promoted to creative director roles.

The pair will also help develop the agency’s creative talent, formalizing mentorship and leadership activities they have been doing since joining the agency four and three years ago, respectively. In addition to creating the agency’s internship program, the pair have worked on campaigns for Coinsquare, FitTrack and “The Coke Challenge” campaign for DanceSafe.

Eady and Galloway-Davis will continue to report to The Garden’s co-founder and chief creative officer Shane Ogilvie, who is stepping back from daily creative duties to a more high-level strategic role, allowing him to focus on client relationships and business growth.

Naked Creative Consultancy names new creative and strategy leadership

Toronto’s Naked Creative Consultancy has hired Yasmin Sahni as its new creative director. She is taking over creative leadership from David Kenyon, who has been in the role for 10 years and is moving into a new role as director of strategy, leading the discipline at the agency.

Sahni is coming off of three years as VP and ECD at GTB’s Toronto office, where she managed all the retail, social and service creative for Ford Canada. She previously managed both Vice Media and Vice’s in-house ad agency Virtue.

Peter Shier, president of Naked, says Sahni’s hiring adds to its creative bench and capabilities, as well as a track record of mentorship, a priority for the company. Meanwhile, Kenyon’s move to the strategy side, he says, makes sense because of his deep knowledge of its clients, which have included Ancestry and The Globe and Mail.

Digital Ethos opens a Toronto office

U.K. digital agency Digital Ethos is pursuing new growth opportunities in North America by opening a new office in Toronto.

Though it didn’t disclose them, the agency has begun serving a number of North American clients, and CEO/founder Luke Tobin says the “time was right to invest in a more formal and actual presence in the area.” whose services include design, SEO, pay-per-click, social media, influencer and PR,

This year, the agency’s growth has also allowed it to open an office in Hamburg, Germany, though it also has remote staff working in countries around the world.

Moray Hickes was the company’s first North American hire as VP of sales, tasked with business development in the region.