Ford Motor Co. Goes After Elon Musk in Bizarre New Ad

(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

One would think that after Disney’s disastrous foray into the nation’s political controversies, companies would have learned their lesson. For a moment, it looked like they might have, as many major corporations declined to weigh in on the leaked SCOTUS opinion on abortion. Not the Ford Motor Company, however, which on May 1 released a new ad trashing Tesla founder and future Twitter CEO Elon Musk.



Although the ad doesn’t reference Musk directly, it’s quite clear who Ford is referring to. A righteous-sounding narrator intones:

Right now it could seem like the only people who matter are the loudest. Those who want to tear things down and then fly away on their personal spaceships when things get hard. But we’ve got 182,000 people and they’re building.

The ad is available on YouTube now, but will first hit the national airwaves during this weekend’s Kentucky Derby, according to tech news site Gizmodo.

What’s odd about the commercial is that Elon Musk isn’t known for tearing things down; he’s known for building them. He founded Tesla and SpaceX, as well as the company, which later became PayPal. His record of achievement is unparalleled, and he is currently the richest man in the world. Tesla is by far the most successful electric vehicle manufacturer, accounting for a whopping 75 percent of the US market so far in 2022.

By contrast, Ford‘s take was only 2.5 percent, and the company reportedly lost $3.1 billion in the first quarter of this year. Hardly a strong position from which to be taking potshots.

It’s unclear why Ford thinks now is a good time to go after Musk. After all, we’ve seen other disastrous marketing campaigns, including Gillette’s insane attempt to sell their razors by tying all men into the #metoo movement and questioning “toxic masculinity”:


Note to marketing department: know your audience. “The Best a Man Can Get” was actually a pretty good campaign; the “Best a Man Can Be” by contrast was one of the all-time worst.


The ad was roundly criticized, and Gillette promptly lost $8 billion. Gillette’ s parent company Procter & Gamble (P&G) blamed the loss on currency fluctuations and “market contraction.” (We believe you, P&G.)

Reaction to the new Ford commercial so far seems to be mostly negative. Here are some sample comments from the YouTube page airing the ad: 

  • I was 3 weeks from buying a new Bronco… Elon Musk seems like a good man, maybe I’m wrong.
  • This ad does not lift up your builders. Ford can do great things without attacking someone else. I’ve driven an F150 for years and I do NOT like the negative nature of this ad. In America all ideas are welcome. Competition is good.
  • I own two newer Fords (New Ranger and Newer Escape EV)and this ad is very disappointing – why attack another great US innovator? If it wasn’t for Elon, Ford probably wouldn’t be making their so/so quality EV’s. This ad actually makes me want to buy a Tesla to support Elon. Ford, you can do better – please reconsider this ad. You can’t make positive vibes for your products by negatively attacking others for their success! Maybe create an Ad noting that you are building on Tesla technology with your own? Stand on his shoulders vs. kicking him in the knees! Very poor choice – probably the last Fords I will own if this keeps up. Very disappointed.
  • Attacking another innovator is not the way to make your business look good…Coming from a family of ford owners. I’m not happy with the tone of this ad.
  • Thank you for this ad. You are showing you are “woke” which has simplified my life. I will NEVER buy ANY Ford product again.

It’s hard to imagine what Ford hopes to gain from this ad. Are they going after Musk because he’s buying Twitter, and the wokesters are upset? There are many criticizing Musk right now, but there are also many fans. Ford just told those fans to take a hike. Or maybe they’re simply jealous that Tesla is kicking their behinds in the EV market?

Disney and Gillette found out the hard way that when you go woke, you go broke. This new Ford ad hasn’t yet brought the same level of controversy (as I noted, it officially airs this weekend), but I doubt it will bring Ford any new customers either. I drive a Ford Explorer, and when it’s time to trade it in… I’m certainly now going to think twice.


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