Ford is totally trolling Elon Musk with this new celebration of its factory workers
The second most-liked tweet of all-time is Elon Musk joking about buying Coca-Cola just to put the cocaine back in.
Next I’m buying Coca-Cola to put the cocaine back in
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 28, 2022
The Tesla CEO has gained global attention, not just for his recent bid to buy Twitter for $44 billion, but more broadly for how he has utilized that platform over the past few years as the most effective communication and marketing tool for his personal brand and those of his companies. If you’re a rival brand, how do you compete with that?
This week, Ford provided an answer with a new ad to celebrate International Workers Day (May 1), which will debut on TV during the Kentucky Derby this weekend.
“Right now, it could seem that the only people who matter are the loudest,” says the Bryan Cranston voiceover. “Those who want to tear things down, and then fly away on their own personal spaceships when things get harder.”
Hmmm, who could Ford be talking about here?
It then zooms in on just a few of Ford’s 182,000 employees, touting their contribution and commitment to quality, while being sure to mention it is assembling more vehicles in the United States than any other automaker, and its $50 billion commitment to EVs. This focus on Ford’s workers is a more nuanced dig at Musk, a subtle reference to Tesla’s ongoing problems—from last year’s ruling that it violated workers’ rights to a recent lawsuit alleging that Black workers in the company’s Fremont factory experienced “rampant racism.”
Created by ad agency Wieden+Kennedy, the new spot continues the brand’s efforts to walk the line between heritage and building for the future. That is where it’s been able to find a differentiator between itself and Tesla. Musk’s company not only has the best-selling EV, but thanks to its CEO, manages to stay at the top of the news cycle. Of course, that’s been a major contributor to its rise in popularity (and minimal advertising), but here Ford is hinting at—and trying to tap into—a sense of Musk fatigue.
It’s also indirectly poking a $44 billion bear. In marketing, using tension can be a risk with high reward. Witness the Cola Wars, or Mac vs. PC, Apple vs. Samsung, and more recently, Arby’s vs. McDonald’s. Ford might just want to brace for the tweetstorm.