Advertisements Built Ford Tough
The target audience throughout the 129-year history of Popular Science magazine has traditionally been working age males. The advertisements within that magazine reflect the audience in whom they are attempting to reach. From new technological gadgets to old-fashioned tools, the advertisers know what will be attractive to the reader, and to the reader’s wallet. Of these advertisers, the most popular by far have been those from the automotive industry. The Ford Motor Company has chosen to strategically advertise within the pages of this magazine on numerous occasions and with various ads that were meant to lure new customers into buying Ford vehicles. It is interesting to notice that the styles of these advertisements are schemed with just the right qualities to attract as many male consumers as possible.
The January, 2001 issue of Popular Science depicts a classic, two-page advertisement from the Ford Motor Company displaying its new F-150 SuperCrew pickup truck. From the colors of the ad, to the write-up found on the pages, it is very clear that the purpose was to attract males by using some of advertising’s basic appeals.
The advertisement appeals to men by providing an outlet for their need for affiliation, the need to aggress, and the need to dominate.
One of the most common appeals toward men in advertising is concerning the need for affiliation among men. This advertisement depicts a photograph of six hard-working men performing various duties – all around a brand new Ford truck. Above this photograph is another picturing six empty styrofoam cups of coffee. These subtle innuendoes are intended to support one of the major themes of the ad – that this particular truck provides seating for six. The way the cups are pictured, lying atop of one another supports the idea that many men hold that friendship and comradeship is greatly important to the success of their lives. Another detail supporting this idea is the fact that the men in the picture are dressed primarily the same. They all wear dark jeans, dark work shoes, and white tee shirts. This gives an impression of uniformity, and of the need for affiliation with friends and co-workers. The advertisement inconspicuously displays a sense of belonging – if the reader decides to buy a new Ford truck!
The need to aggress is depicted by quite a few aspects of this ad. First of all, the strong lettering at the tops of both pages of this advertisement depict a sort of cynicism toward mainstream thinking – a sort of «go against the flow» mentality. The largest words are written in black and white and read, «I don’t…» This type of skeptical behavior is felt by many people – especially men — who are trying to establish themselves as independent of their wives and others. The skepticism is continued in the rest of the wording: «I don’t ‘bring anything to the party.’ I bring the party.» It continues by stating, «Houses don’t raise themselves. And it’s amazing how much of the job is still done by hand. If your truck can carry six guys…well you do the math.» Many men feel tamed at home. They become fathers and husbands who fear losing their own identities. This ad demonstrates the right of these men to be who they want to be and accomplish what they want to accomplish – as long as they have a truck big enough to hold their friends and coworkers.
The final appeal is directed toward the need for men to dominate. Male masculinity is considered crucial to male independence. Many men often feel the need to impress others with their masculinity by showing a dominating nature. This advertisement portrays the dominating nature men often desire to possess by modeling guys who each look to be in control of their jobs. Each model is performing a separate task, in which everyone seems to be dominant. And who would be the most dominant in the picture but the owner of the truck? The red color chosen for the words «I bring the party» seems to portray a fiery, dominating statement made by whomever owns the truck. Also, the coffee cups have three cups lying down and three cups standing up – with one standing taller than the rest. This could be taken to mean that, if someone buys a truck of this model, he would stand a little taller than the rest of his friends or co-workers. The Ford Motor Company advertising clichй for their truck division is located at the bottom right hand of the ad. It emphatically states, «Built Ford Tough.» In other words, it seems to imply that whoever buys this model of truck will be just a little bit tougher than those who don’t. The color scheme of the photographs is deliberately chosen to be lighter than normal in order for the words to stand out in a more dominating fashion. All of these qualities are hoped to appeal to that dominant, masculine nature that men tend to want to portray to their peers.
Ford appears to have made a successful effort in reaching its target audience in this advertisement. Not only did they appeal to at least three of the basic needs men tend to express, but it also opened the door for future advertisements to further explain other benefits of owning such a truck as the one in the present ad. Stephen Leacock stated in his Garden of Folly, «Advertising may be described as the science of arresting human intelligence long enough to get money from it.» If this is true, then this advertisement may only be judged by the amount of trucks that are sold to the readers of Popular Science.
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