Ford Motor is partnering with Disney for unique unveilings of its new lineup of Bronco SUVs as automakers globally seek alternative ways to garner attention for highly-anticipated vehicles during the coronavirus pandemic.
The automaker will unveil its "Ford Bronco 4x4 family" of vehicles July 13 across Disney's media networks in the U.S. – marking the first-ever, prime-time product reveal across Disney's broadcast, cable, digital and streaming properties, including ABC, ESPN, National Geographic and Hulu.
"This is enormous for us. This is the return of an icon that people have just been clamoring about for years," Matt VanDyke, director of Ford U.S. marketing, told CNBC. "For us, this is just of huge importance and carefully crafted."
Ford worked with Disney CreativeWorks, the company's creative agency, to create custom three-minute videos for each network to debut the vehicles. The videos will air during the first commercial breaks of each network's 8 p.m. broadcast, followed by the Hulu streaming service beginning the next day.
Each "film" features a special guest: professional climber Brooke Raboutou for ESPN's "SportsCenter;" country music singer Kip Moore for the "CMA Best of Fest" on ABC; and Academy Award-winning director Jimmy Chin, a professional climber, will spotlight another Bronco during "National Parks: Yosemite" on National Geographic. Chin, a cinematographer and photographer, also assisted Ford in creating the spots for each of the networks, VanDyke said.
"We absolutely intend on putting our best foot forward and making sure that the Bronco gets the glory it deserves. We're so excited about this partnership that's so unique with Disney to co-create it," VanDyke said. "We think it will draw a huge amount of additional interest to our own properties and just make this reveal one that we'll never forget."
VanDyke declined to discuss financial details of the partnership other than saying it is "a paid integration and a partnership" with "advertising that's associated with it."
The videos will refer viewers to Ford.com for more information as well as the ability to place $100 reservations for the Bronco. The site as well as Ford's social media channels also will have additional content and videos, including a longer unveiling of the Bronco family.
The Bronco reveal marks the first time Disney CreativeWorks is deploying custom branded content across multiple networks during prime time.
"With Ford, we're reimagining what a product reveal can look like by drawing upon our best-in-class sports, entertainment and streaming brands to bring the new Bronco family to life in a way that honors its heritage and gives viewers an unforgettable experience," Rita Ferro, president, Disney Advertising Sales, said in a statement.
Discussions about such a partnership started six to eight weeks ago, VanDyke said. Disney and Ford had initially decided to broadcast the unveiling on July 8, however the date was changed due to controversy about the event coinciding with O.J. Simpson's birthday.
"That was completely a coincidence. It was completely unintended," VanDyke said. "We did not want to be insensitive to people who felt that was inappropriate and neither did Disney."
Simpson, a former football star, was infamously involved in a nationally televised slow-speed police chase with a 1993 Ford Bronco following the death of his wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman in 1994.
Disney, according to VanDyke, was "flexible" with Ford changing the reveal date. It was at least the third time Ford had rescheduled the Bronco unveiling. Two previous events earlier this spring, including the Detroit auto show and a private debut, were canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
"Without auto shows and the world that we're living in right now, the traditional vehicle reveal is no longer the case," VanDyke said. "As we thought about Bronco, we wanted it to have its own unique approach to it."
The debut of the Bronco has been anticipated for years. Ford initially confirmed its return in January 2017. Ford is expected to offer a "Bronco family" of vehicles, including two- and four-door versions and reports of a smaller SUV called the Bronco Sport.
Ford executives have promised the Bronco will live up to its reputation as a classic off-road SUV. Ford last produced the vehicle, a two-door, in 1996.
This isn't the first time Ford has teamed up with Disney for a new vehicle. The companies partnered for an attraction that debuted at the 1964 World's Fair called the "Ford Magic Skyway." It featured Ford vehicles, including the first-generation Ford Mustang, which debuted at the fair, taking passengers through different time periods.