Ford's new marketing campaign for the 2012 Focus compact is winning high praise from the blogosphere's chattering classes. A bit out of left-field, the campaign consists of 2 to 4-minute webisodes starring a bright-red puppet named Doug.
"If you think that sounds ridiculous, you're not alone," writes Jeff Glucker at Autoblog. "We first heard the concept and nearly spit coffee straight into the screens of our laptops. Then Ford shared the first videos and we again nearly spit out our coffee... because the first clips are hilarious thanks to Doug's waggish and flirty behavior."
The episodes enlist top quality Hollywood talent such as director Paul Feig, who wrote for Freaks and Geeks and directed episodes of The Office, Parks and Recreation, Weeds, 30 Rock and Arrested Development. They also roped in other writers and actors from programs including The Simpsons, Late Night with Conan O'Brien and Reno 911.
"Ford is the latest marketer to take advantage of the web’s new freedom to offer humor that wouldn’t fly in a 30-second TV spot aimed at Middle America," writes Todd Wasserman at Mashable. "The Doug campaign’s humor is edgy in a way that a traditional TV campaign couldn’t be."
The Doug puppet is equipped with his own YouTube channel, Facebook fan page and a Twitter account, The company has published about a half dozen videos so far. In his recurring role, he's essentially a caddish Charlie Sheen-type who offends and humiliates as he represents the company brand. Ford has uploaded about a half dozen short videos so far but the newest is the first that qualifies as a full-fledged webisode. Have a look: