Ford Motor Co.'s ``No boundaries'' ad theme is migrating to network TV programming, as the company has inked a deal for a pilot with Fox Broadcasting in June.
The one-hour ``No Boundaries'' show takes off on the tag Ford introduced last fall for its lineup of sport-utilities. Each of four documentary-style episodes will focus on a specific outdoor activity, said Ed Molchany, brand manager of Ford's Explorer Sport Trac.
That all-new hybrid vehicle combines a pickup bed with a sport-utility compartment and four doors.
The Sport Trac, with TV spots due May 15 on network TV, will also get a big ad push during the show, he said. ``The idea is to connect with our target,'' he said.
Ford gets three minutes of advertising during the program, which will also have other advertisers. Ford spent an estimated $7 million on the production and advertising for the pilot.
Ford's agency, J. Walter Thompson USA in Detroit, developed the strategy and coordinated the effort, said Joe DiMeglio, management supervisor on the brand's sport-utility line. ``This is not a gratuitous product placement,'' he said of the pilot. ``This is very much a quality show.''
One episode will highlight an eight-day ski trip in the backwoods. Another follows a mountain biking trek. Each episode tells stories about the outfitters who guide the tours.
``This is not just adrenalin-thumping action,'' DiMeglio said. ``We're trying to make it more a slice of life and it's designed to be educational.''
JWT is developing what DiMeglio dubbed a ``documercial'' showing the features of the Sport Trac to air during the show. The length hasn't been determined, but it will be part of Ford's three minutes of ad time. Ford also will run newspaper ads in USA Today, created by JWT, to promote the show.
Each ``No Boundaries'' program has four segments. One 10 to 12 minute segment will focus on the ``Ford Explorer Sport Trac Challenge.'' Ford is sponsoring preliminary rounds for the rock climbing, kayaking, mountain biking and back-country skiing-snowboarding finals later this year in Oregon.
Footage of the preliminary rounds won't necessarily show Ford's sport-utilities. Members of the Ford-sponsored team will appear in the documercial.
JWT hired 3 Corners of Santa Monica, Calif., as the production company. Chris Czmyrd, a former marketing director at Outside magazine, is the executive producer. The director and cameraman is free-lancer Bill Schneider, who is best known for his mountain biking film work.
Ford already has more than 50,000 orders for Sport Trac with its starting price of $23,050, Molchany said. The target buyers are outdoor enthusiasts in their mid-30s.
Ford's upcoming Sport Trac TV commercial will position the truck as ``critical gear for outdoor adventure,'' Molchany said. He declined to discuss ad spending, but said it's rather high considering the number of expected unit sales - as many as 100,000.
The hybrid vehicle is expected to get an estimated $30 million blitz. Molchany doesn't expect Sport Trac to cannibalize sales of the Explorer, which has older buyers in their early to mid-40s. The Sport Trac, on sale since February, is built on the same chassis as Explorer.