Female drivers are outnumbering male drivers for the first time ever—and Millennial-generation female buyers are outpacing Millennial male buyers by 53 percent. The demographics of the automotive market are shifting faster than traditional marketing can keep pace.
Gender representation in American advertising still tends to be flat and relies heavily on stereotypes: sexy young singles, housework-obsessed wives, harried mothers. Rarely do depictions of women in American media give them any real power.
In 2015, our strategic insight leads with the truth that women want more than just to not be stereotyped. They want to be heard for who they are. Our brand positioning, "Live out loud," focuses on personal empowerment by showing women as individuals and not as a monolith.
Our idea: show a woman "speed dating" with eligible bachelors—and get them in a 2015 Mustang to let the woman display her professional stunt driving skills. Tackling the myth of the bad female driver, we presented an image of a powerful, skilled woman pulling a driving prank on men when she is most expected to be traditionally feminine—a date.
Our strategy was to reject stereotypes and just show a woman being an independent, powerful and authentic. The driver, Prestin, embodies Ford's modern woman: She's more than any one thing; she's feminine and bold, courageous and quiet. Like women in the real world, she's multifaceted in her personality and her talents. Using her natural strengths, we focused on subverting the cliché that women are inferior drivers.
For Mustang Speed Dating, we wanted to show a female stunt driver in a Ford being her authentic self, using skills that break the stereotype that women should be demure, or that women aren't great drivers.
Our driver embraced the power of a V8 engine in the 2015 Mustang—a "muscle car" that summons ideas of men exerting their strength. Instead, we showed the world a woman who was comfortable with her beauty, brains and brawn. The men in the video originally underestimated her. But when she unleashed the extent of her driving talents, she blew their expectations (and gender stereotypes) out of the water.
Per the strategic directive to resolve tensions surrounding gender-based cultural perceptions of driving, this campaign was an absolute success. Ninety-eight percent of our 12.8 million video views were due to viral earned pick up, and our spot became the second most-viewed YouTube video among US auto companies. Earned coverage ran across CNN, Yahoo, the Today Show, USA, and beyond.
Furthermore, sentiment analysis showed that the content was indeed received favorably by women—and men. Women consistently showed overwhelming support and excitement for the video through their social commentary and actions. Additionally, while paid support for this campaign was minimal compared to its earned traction, all paid distribution partners exceeded applicable engagement benchmarks.
The desired long-term results are both obvious and subtle. First, we expect content such as this to resonate with women in a way that makes them feel favorably toward our brand, and to show that Ford is a brand for a person like them. Second, we expect to use our brand clout to contribute to a larger conversation about gender stereotypes with hopes of seeing shifts in those attitudes in both advertising and society overall.