Cowdell on Ford's "Swap My Ride" campaign


Ford’s "Swap My Ride" secret stunt in which folks who had recently bought new cars from competitors traded them temporarily for Fords began running on television and online this week (9/5/07 TVBR #173).

The commercials feature people who were asked to drive Fords for a week instead of the cars they had just purchased; Ford concealed its identity by creating a make-believe market research firm to conduct the effort.

We asked Phil Cowdell, CEO of Ford Media Services, a bit about the thinking behind the effort: "This is just another example of trying to put the power back in to the hands of the consumers…i.e. don’t take our word for it; try it for yourselves; and ‘for real’. Interestingly, I just heard [yesterday] that we are doing similar ‘real life’ comparisons in markets in Asia (i.e. China, Philippines) to similar success. It is also in tune with 1) the growing skepticism of consumers re: extravagant ad claims that are made by the advertiser without apparent third party validation; 2) better informed consumers (especially with so much online info and reviews from 3rd parties) and 3) the overwhelming rise of reality TV-type content in which Joe Public gets to be the star (or at least a significant support actor!).

What is clear from the research data is that many people have a view of what Ford used to be. And if they haven’t experienced it lately, the most effective way to jump-start a shift in perceptions is real, live, first-hand, unadulterated experience. These cars and trucks are great to drive…..but we’re saying, "don’t just take our word for it…"