Ford Fiesta's image update piques interest, but fails to tell viewers why to buy

Adwatch: Marketing's unique weekly analysis of ad recall in association with TNS.

Ford: 'Fiesta 24-hour project' is an engaging idea that somehow fails to sell the car
Ford: 'Fiesta 24-hour project' is an engaging idea that somehow fails to sell the car

The 'Fiesta 24-hour project' poses the question: 'What would you do if you had the Fiesta for 24 hours?' - something I'm sure we've all asked ourselves at some point.

In the ad we discover what Rafael Rozendall, an artist (a fact we are told just in case you, like me or the 43 other people I polled, don't know who he is) does.

Surprisingly, Rafael decides that he's not going to drive the car, but instead put it in a dark room, smash lots of mirrors on the floor (creating approximately 63 years of bad luck by my calculations), and shine lots of different coloured lights on it.

I think it's fair to assume that Ford is trying to position the latest Fiesta, the UK's biggest-selling car, as the cool kid on the block.

First, I think Fiesta should be applauded. It's great to see a big brand understand that to engage this audience it needs to develop an ad that is born from an engaging campaign idea, rather than trying to create a campaign from a TV spot.

If using TV to reach this audience, it needs to act like the tip of the iceberg that highlights a much more engaging world to discover below. This ad does that; it drives the viewer to engage in the 24-hour project.

The cherry on the cake comes from using credible talent, rather than just looking to use them for an endorsement.

It should be good, then. In this instance, however, it's like someone has tried to make a cake, without checking whether the milk is lumpy before they poured it in. They've followed the recipe, but for some reason it leaves a bad taste in everyone's mouths.

For me, the lumpy milk is the idea 'What would you do with the Ford Fiesta for 24 hours?' This audience is one of the savviest: it needs to be engaged in an interesting and authentic manner, but it's that authenticity that is really lacking in this ad.

Despite the car's facelift, asking an underground artist what they would do with a Ford Fiesta for 24 hours isn't going to spark loads of amazing ideas; it's not going to fulfil their dreams or potential. To the viewer, it is clear that the artist in question is being bribed (probably very handsomely). Nor at the end do I feel compelled to rush online and tell Ford what I would do with a Fiesta for 24 hours.

Offer me an Aston Martin for 24 hours, on the other hand, and suddenly my mind is awash with different possibilities - although, in reality, I would probably just take it to the McDonald's drive-thru and end up eating fries on my own in the back seat.

The bottom line is that no matter what anyone says, this isn't a 24-hour or one-night-stand car: it's a partner car, one that you could fall in love with and stay with forever (well the next three years or 26,297 hours, anyway). Only by acknowledging that will the audience Ford wants to talk to about the Fiesta ever listen.

Brand strategy verdict

Superb approach, and with a better insight into the realities of why you would buy the car, it could have been quite powerful.


Which of the following TV commercials do you remember seeing recently?
Latest rank Feb-13 Brand Agency/TV buyer Recall
1 (1) Virgin Media  BBH/Fifty6 63
2 (-)  Dare/Carat 51
3 (2) Argos 

CHI & Partners/


4 (9) DFS  Krow/MediaCom 42
5= (-) 118 118 

The Brooklyn



5= (6) McDonald's  Leo Burnett/OMD UK 38
7 (-) Autoglass  Tellyville/MediaVest 37
8 (-) Twinings  Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO/ZenithOptimedia 34
9 (-) Ford Fiesta 

Ogilvy & Mather/


10 (-) Apple iPhone 5 

TBWA\Media Arts Lab/

Manning Gottlieb OMD

11 (-) Foxy Bingo  Biscuit Agency/Concord 30
12 (-) NSPCC  Inferno/OMD UK 29
13 (-) Dreams 

MWO, re:production/


14= (-) Tena Lights  DLKW Lowe/Carat 26
14= (-) Dacia  Publicis/OMD UK 26
16 (-) New York Bakery  Now/MediaCom 25
17= (-) KFC  BBH/Walker Media 24
17= (-) Sainsbury's 

Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO/


17= (-) Homebase  Leo Burnett/Mindshare 24
20 (-) Truvia 

Creature of London/



Adwatch research was conducted from 7-11 February 2013 by TNS as part of its twice-weekly OnLineBus omnibus among 1000 adults aged 16-64. For details of the survey, contact (020 7160 5550). Ads were compiled by Ebiquity (020 7650 9700) and Mediaedge:cia UK (020 7803 2000).