As the broadcast sponsor of X Factor New Zealand, Ford and its agency JWT wanted to do something that would bring the various strands of music, aspiration and gratuitous car shots together. And, after filming wannabe stars and their various hangers on singing Che Fu's 'Fade Away' in the back of a pimped out 2013 Kuga on the 27-stop audition tour, it's released the final product.
"It's the ad as content thing. It's an ad that's a music video and people might actually want to watch it," says Cleve Cameron, JWT's creative director.
He says The Passengers process started in December and involved plenty of discussions with both MediaWorks and the format owners Syco. It also took a while to settle on 'Fade Away' as the song everyone would be singing.
"A lot of pop songs are about break-ups," he says. "They're catchy but miserable. But 'Fade Away' is about friendship. It's universal."
Adding to the cosmic connection, Flying Fish's Joe Lonie, an original member of Supergroove who Cameron had worked with before in Australia, was in charge of building the back-seat recording studio and capturing it all on film.
Cameron says over 200 singers are featured on the final cut, and thousands more, including a host of supporters and those who didn't make it through, gave it a crack. The music video also features a bit of meta-sponsorship, with a few of the All Blacks warbling away in the back seat. And while Cameron said it initially did his head in wondering how many sponsorship properties could be included in one idea, he says it worked out really well in the end and, unlike some ads featuring sports stars, they embraced it and didn't "turn into wood".
"They were there with Che Fu, so there was some mutual respect. They were charmed and disarmed."
The finished music video is the centre-piece of the campaign and it will of course be spread liberally around Ford's social networks in the hope that the various participants will try and spot themselves and keep sharing. But it will also become part of the show, with short clips featuring on the intros and outros of every episode. And to fit in with the arc, Ford will soon start to feature the finalists indulging in a bit of Kuga karaoke with a new 30 second ad.
There are plenty of obligatory car shots featuring quintessentially New Zealand scenes. But Cameron says the need to show off the car is balanced out by the "the young, the old and the hairy; the real New Zealand" showcased inside the vehicle.
Ford has long sponsored the All Blacks, but many of its major competitors like Toyota and Hyundai have done a better job of using comms to connect with New Zealanders over the years.
"This is a great thing for Ford to be part of," he says. "Connecting with New Zealand is a really important thing to do and the goal of this is to make the brand more relevant."
In addition to this promotion, Ford, along with The Edge, also backed Fast Ford to Bootcamp, which saw Syco agree to change the format of the show for the first time.