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Ford "Go Further" Story Chock-full of (good) Complications

What made this spot so good? Ford “Go Further” / GTB / :90 This is the eighth in a series of articles where I deconstruct examples of excellent storytelling in contemporary advertising.

Ford recently formed Ford Smart Mobility, a unit responsible for experimenting with car-sharing programs, self-driving ventures and other programs aimed at helping the 114-year-old automaker better compete with Uber, Alphabet Technologies and other tech giants looking to edge in on the auto industry.

Global Team Blue (GTB) aimed to make an impression with this story and show that Ford is looking toward the future. They used one of the biggest stages there is: Super Bowl time.

The pain point: Advance Ford’s market positioning as a ‘mobility’ company, not just an automaker. The solution: Compliment Nina Simon’s song “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free” with analogy imagery.

Goal, action, complication, resolution

I always love me some good, old-fashioned complications in a story, and this spot is rife with them. In fact, the first minute is dedicated to simple, relatable daily problems. Losing house keys, getting a car stuck in the snow, stranded on a ski lift, a basketball wedged in-between the rim and backboard, trying to pull off a wetsuit.

Each of the character’s goal in every messy situation is to free themselves, which aligns perfectly with the lyrics.

The variety of actions is humorous and entertaining. From a cat having its head stuck in a tissue box, to a man stranded on a boat with an uncooperative engine.

The resolutions come fast and furious with an amazing degree of ‘good feels’ that almost make me want to stand up and cheer. The scenes of a kite stuck in a tree, a man wedged in a pet door, or a kid hanging by his foot on a chain link fence have nothing to do with cars, but everything to do with conveying the feeling of being trapped.

Good stories use analogies to punctuate a message. As far as car commercials go, this story is on point.

The Press Play Test

We can all hit a wall with our writing if you believe in writer’s block or not. Next time you do, run through this checklist. I have these four words written in the corner of my office chalkboard. They stare down at me all day long as if they’re saying, ‘I’m right here when you need me.’

The best way to see if an idea is landing is to test it. It’s easy to pitch an idea to your creative team when you can hop up and down and act your way through it with funny voices and props. But is the idea good enough to stand on its own? Most of the time we force ourselves to draw out every story beat using stick figures, throw them in a timeline, record scratch voices and edit it down in Final Cut Pro. This animatic must pass the ‘press play test!’

I fire off a link to this video to someone who has no clue of what we're up to. Even better if this test audience is only tangentially in the creative business. I ask just one question: “Do you get it?” If it passes this test, I know we're onto something with potential. Your turn! What’s your creative process? How do you test ideas before you get into production? Let us know in the comments.

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