How'd They Do That? The Inside Story of the Making of Ford's Super Duty
Super Bowl Commercials
By: Mike LevinePosted:
02-25-07 22:10 PT
© 2007 PickupTruck.com
How do you
tell 93 million Americans in a minute or less that your new truck is the
most capable ever built? For Ford Motor Company’s launch of the
Super Duty, another commercial of a pickup doing donuts in the mud
wasn’t going to cut it.
before Super Bowl XLI, Ford truck marketing execs and their advertising
partners at J. Walter Thompson Detroit decided the perennially most watched
television program would be the perfect platform to kick off promotion
of the new line of F-250, F-350, and F-450 pickups.
wanted to create an eye catching campaign, that wasn’t just showing
a truck on dirt,” says Brian Rathsburg, Ford Truck communications
manager. “JWT Detroit came up with three themes for commercials.
One of the themes, ‘Inside Story’, was presented to us and
it just popped out as the perfect way to tell the story about the new
By now you’re
probably familiar with these mesmerizing 60, 30, and 15-second spots.
They show an exploded field of truck parts self-assembling into a Ford
F-450 while a square jawed spokesperson walks around explaining the technical
high points of the vehicle. The Matrix-like special effects are enough
to evoke a Keanu Reeves worthy, “Whoa!” from any auto enthusiast.
“What makes a Ford truck better than the rest is that its parts
are better. So, in the ads, we thought, what if you could walk around
the parts and talk about them? The Inside Story was perfect because it
allowed us to do that with a concept that has very high ‘rewatchability’,”
With a greenlight for the concept, real work began in early December
2006, only about six weeks before the ads had to be ready to air. For
the first few weeks most of the time was spent on research and pre-production
Ford and JWT continued to refine the concept through storyboarding. Storyboards
are typically hand-drawn illustrations ordered chronologically to pre-visualize
a motion graphic. They save time and money before an actual commitment
is made to production.
of storyboards were created, called “Crate”, “Everything”,
and “Dual Turbo”.
start with a giant wooden crate dropped into a Super Duty's bed. As the
truck’s “owner” closes the tailgate the truck flies
apart into hundreds of pieces that hang suspended in the air while the
person walks around explaining the truck’s capabilities. The pieces
come back together to show a Super Duty at a worksite and the crate hanging
in midair, again. It finally drops with an impressive impact into the
cargo box to end the spot.
In the Everything
layouts, the Super Duty’s major components are shown floating weightless
in space. The engine, suspension, and body are largely in their assembled
state as the spokesperson interacts with the parts, which come together
at the end in a 3/4 frontal shot of a finished F-450 dually.
Turbo boards are the inspiration for the memorable shots of the Super
Duty’s 6.4-liter Powerstroke diesel engine assembling itself. The
storyline is similar to Crate but the parts are shown in greater detail,
especially the dual sequential turbos in the PSD. As the truck reintegrates,
a giant boat speeds in from the right to be hooked to the pickup and end
“Clearly a lot changed in the final execution even though the overall
concept is the same,” says Ford truck communications spokesperson
effects firm The Mill was hired to create the computer generated (CG)
animation necessary to make the commercial’s storyboards a reality.
in London, with offices in LA and New York City, The Mill won an Oscar
in 2001 for its work on the movie Gladiator recreating a virtual, ancient