A few days ago, I saw a Ford Mustang Mach-E ad for the first time on YouTube. It turns out the ad actually came out a week ago. It now has nearly 2 million views on YouTube alone.
My first impression was that it was a great ad. It tells you almost nothing about the electric crossover that bears the iconic Mustang name, not to mention the similarly cool “Mach-E” at the end. Though, that is apparently not the role of ads. Ads are about emotions, visceral appeal, coolness & cultural queues. A commercial is supposed to move you to do something beyond what is logical, or move you to do something that is logical — it doesn’t really matter to the advertiser or the commercial producers if the purchase decision is logical or not; you just need to buy the product.
So, while I’m an electric vehicle fan who is disappointed that more great info about the Mustang Mach-E’s super competitive cost of ownership, instant torque, long range, high-tech nature, and convenient home charging isn’t explained, I’m more happy that the commercial scored in several ways that will entice potential customers to say, “Hey, I want to know more about this car. I’ll go Google it right now.”
Naturally, one of the most important elements of the commercial is that it features Chevy Chase and the Griswold family. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is one of the most famous and most loved Christmas movies. It’s also not new at all. It’s 31 years old. But that’s a good thing. For one, since it’s not a recent hit, the commercial can’t be passed over as just another attempt to ride on a current trend. Instead, it reaches deep into our cultural past (well, “deep” in the internet age) and reminds us of a simpler times and great holidays as kids or young adults. That’s a plus.
Zach, dude, you’re not even talking about the car. I know, I know — but that’s the point. The commercial is so good because it pulls on all of these emotions and memories in the viewers’ hearts and heads, leading them to a sentimental moment that opens the doors to one’s mind and feelings. The commercial ends with a punchline that is basically leading you to think, “Wow, what is that vehicle — I’m going to learn more.” The commercial doesn’t answer the question. It barely gives a hint. And that cliffhanger ending makes you (or should make you) want to go to Ford.com and find out.
Also noteworthy: consider for a moment who might buy a Mustang Mach-E? Ford buyers are typically not tech-crazed progressives who will jump into a Tesla and forget the legacy auto industry ever existed. They’re more conservative buyers, and they’re an older crowd. The days when Mustangs ruled the streets are days to quickly get nostalgic about. The Griswolds fit right in there. Furthermore, while the cost of ownership of a Mustang Mach-E is surely better than most people would guess on the surface, the sticker price is not low, and, again, demographic groups a bit older than the norm have more money for a higher-than-average purchase price — from $44,000 to $60,000+ before options. (Keep in mind, though, that Mustang Mach-E buyers can also benefit from a $7,500 federal EV tax credit.)
Also, the Griswolds are not the Griswolds of 1989. They are modern. They are the Griswolds of 2020. And showing us what’s hip and cool, the family has a brand new Ford Mustang Mach-E in the driveway. Additionally, the smart and powerful Mach-E saves the day by powering the Christmas lights that are nearly swallowing the house. The family then walks over, in awe at the hot red Mustang Mach-E and super curious to learn more about Ford’s potentially breakthrough electric crossover. That’s what you, the dear viewer, should be doing of course. There is one problem that sort of irks me about the commercial, though.
The thing is — the big punchline at the end of the commercial is not aligned with reality. You can’t power your house with a Mustang Mach-E. It doesn’t have vehicle-to-grid (V2G) or vehicle-to-home (V2H) capabilities. So, anyone who buys the electric crossover thinking it does will have an unhappy surprise. And it hurts my head to think of how many hours salespeople will have to spend answering customers’ questions about whether the Mustang Mach-E can power their houses.
On the other hand, the commercial does convey one point, or two actually — the Mustang Mach-E is electric, and that’s cool.
Overall, I like the commercial a great deal. I may even love it. However, the lack of detail and misleading ending are things that a nerd and journalist like me has a hard time getting over. The only consolation is that I think the ending is really, really effective at getting people to wonder about the car’s capabilities and probably persuade them to Google the Mustang Mach-E or ask their local dealer about it. Not a bad way to start advertising the Mach-E at all.
Oh yeah, plus, it’s packed full of Christmas spirit.
What are your thoughts? Great commercial? Horrible commercial? Meh?
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