From the earliest Model-T in the 1920s to the latest Falcon and Territory, Ford Australia advertising has always been a sign of the times.
The campaigns often reflected what was happening in Australia – and the world – and always played to our emotional side. And that was even more so when it came to locally-built or assembled cars.
The patriotism of the World War 2 years and the simplicity that closely followed as we emerged from the austerity and horror. The design flourishes of the more hopeful 1950s, with its new materials and affluence.
A 1965 campaign in the Australian Women’s Weekly trumpeted “what we have discovered about women” with an immaculately hatted and gloved model looking primly charmed by the new Falcon.
But whatever Ford had learned about the female sex had changed markedly by 1970, with TV commercials for the Escort featuring swinging go-go dancers in brief bikinis, ogled by moustached Lotharios in paisley shirts.
There were plenty of psychedelic cues to suggest that life with a Ford – or perhaps life at their advertising agency – was non-stop party.
As the medium developed technically, so did the focus of the ads. Later commercials sang – sometimes literally – the praises of the high-tech like “three on the floor and a T-bar shift”.
Utes in the 70s and 80s were workhorses rather than show ponies, with ads touting the depth of the trays and the easy-loading access of the tailgates. It was left to the now-dead panel van to appeal to the weekend warrior and his “need to be free” … to go fishing.
The Falcon was the main push for Ford advertising, and the 1990s gave us the annoying ‘Mambo number 5’ and ‘Accentuate the Positive’ soundtracks for the AU.
The new millennium showed some old views still lingered, with the most popular example the ‘unbelievable pulling power’ of the 2005 BA Falcon Mk2 XR8 Ute.
It posited that owners would find themselves driving through rural backwaters populated entirely by nubile models whose impressive cleavages threatened to escape their clothing as they were irresistibly attracted to the Falcon. “I reckon we should pull over and give them a ride,” the heroes suggest.
This was followed by a sequel in which the ute attracts only canines, and the closing dialogue with the passenger suggesting again they should give them a lift, to be told “nah… they’re dogs”.
Staying with the big-car blokiness – as the market moved towards inexorably towards small vehicles – Ford followed up in 2007 with a BF ute ad that showed a men’s dream town: paperboys toss kebabs onto the lawn, Mr Frothy beer trucks patrol the streets, flatscreens are billboard-sized and ‘Beer: The Musical’ is on at the local theatre.
But women were the stars in one of Ford's very clever campaigns, with the school drop-off zone becoming populated with trucker mums in big rigs, all astounded to see the more car-like Territory SUV arrive.