Ford Motor Company is bringing back the famed Bronco after a 25-year hiatus, and one way it will spur interest in the SUV brand is through a new eight-episode documentary podcast series called Bring Back Bronco. The podcast is part of a growing focus on podcasts as the automaker follows its customers beyond the traditional brand-building mediums like television. “Everything is changing,” said Chief Communications Officer Mark Truby. “People are getting their content in different ways.”
The genesis of the Bring Back Bronco podcast was a decision Ford made last year to being examining how to use podcasts effectively. Truby told Podcast News Daily that began when the company brought together a team of Ford insiders and experts from outside the company. “We started talking about how we could get more involved in podcasting because we all love it so much and we wanted to bring Ford more into the conversation,” he recalled.
But it was not immediately clear that a Ford-branded podcast was the right move. Truby said they considered several ideas, such as whether to focus on getting Ford executives and experts on other shows. That led, for instance, to Ford COO Jim Farley recently appearing on Adam Carolla’s CarCast podcast. But when the automaker decided to revive the Bronco SUV brand after a quarter century, it found the right story to tell across an eight-episode podcast.
Even though it is technically an established brand, for many buyers Bronco is a new model, which makes Ford’s decision to use audio and a podcast even more noteworthy. Audio ads, usually broadcast radio, have been relied on for promotional messaging, with the task of brand-building left to flashy television commercials. But with a 30 for 30 vibe, Truby said the aim is to give listeners more affinity for the Bronco as they get a deeper understanding of what the model is all about and what went into returning it to dealer showrooms.
“We haven’t put it out to the world yet, so we don’t know how well it’s going to connect. But there are a lot of brands that I know because of podcasts,” said Truby. “The breaks are short enough, so people don’t fast-forward through the ads, so there’s also chance to get repetition.”
Ford will promote Bring Back Bronco on other car-related podcasts. And while the company said it does not plan to create podcasts for each brand, the Bronco is not the only show it produces. Ford is also involved in the Argo AI’s No Parking Podcast, which is a conversation about what cars are going to be like once cars are self-driving. “It’s like magazines were in the old days. It’s a way for people who really have an interest in a specialized area to drill deep and learn more about whatever it is,” said Truby.
Produced by the podcast agency Pacific Content in conjunction with Global Team Blue, Bring Back Bronco will be a bi-weekly podcast. It is slated to debut August 10. There will also be bonus content, including historic photos, documents, early sketches of the original and 2021 Broncos, as well as oral histories from Ford employees and Broncophiles. It will all be posted at the podcast’s yet-to-launch website.
As Goes Bronco, So Goes America
The podcast is hosted by former National Public Radio transportation and economics correspondent Sonari Glinton. He has plenty to work with. The Bronco was built by Ford until 1996, just two years after the infamous O.J. Simpson police chase on live television cast a shadow over the brand. It is a topic that Ford says will be covered in the podcast as it explains what impact, if any, the event had on the decision to stop producing the SUV. But in a rebirth, it will also tell the story of how a group of dedicated Ford employees fought to bring the Bronco back from the auto brand graveyard.
On Bring Back Bronco, Glinton will be joined by Detroit history expert Bailey Sisoy-Moore, as well as the people inside and outside Ford who have been part of Bronco’s history and rebirth in 2020. It will also feature interviews with Broncophiles, including those who have been part of the Bronco’s life as racers, restorers, a legendary Baja racer, and one voice who took a Bronco to the Arctic Circle, plus 10 Ford executives who have been part of the journey to bring it back.
“This project was of special interest to me for several reasons, including the fact that my mother worked for Ford for many years and I worked on a Ford assembly line before I went into radio and reporting,” said Glinton, who is now a principal at DeLite Media. “Plus, I think you can really tell the story of America when you dig deep and tell the story of a product, and I have always wanted to do that.”
Ford’s budget for Bring Back Bronco was in the six-figure range. “It’s not as expensive as running a Super Bowl ad for sure, but doing it well costs some money,” said Truby. He explained that not only does it cost money to get a top-level host, but also to write a good script and create an effective sound design. Truby credits their work with Pacific Content for helping the car company through that process.
Ford’s embrace of podcasting comes as a recent analysis conducted through Nielsen’s Podcast Listener Buying Power service found that among the 35.8 million Americans who were shopping online for vehicles during the COVID-19 lockdowns, the group included 10.5 million podcast listeners. Those engaged podcast fans represent part of what is a $302 billion opportunity for marketers and advertisers, Nielsen concluded.
Beyond creating shows, Ford is also allocating some of its ad dollars to the podcast medium. Truby said Spotify’s recent $100 million licensing agreement for The Joe Rogan Experience has helped demonstrate that podcasting is moving into the mainstream as both an advertising and storytelling platform.
“It’s very likely that we would buy podcast ads for a Bronco or a Mustang. Whether it becomes a bigger piece of our ad budget in time, we’ll have to see. But I suspect we will move away from 30- and 60-second television ads being the end-all and be-all for building a brand and launching a vehicle. There are other ways now that are more effective,” Truby said. “Ford, like everybody else, is trying to meet people where they are. And one of those places is podcasts.”