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Last week we discussed the genius of Chevy’s “Like a Rock” commercials throughout the ’90s and early ’00s. They’re some of the best car commercials ever made. Ford, Chevy’s perennial rival, did something similar to hock its trucks. It convinced legendary country singer Alan Jackson to do a rewrite of some hits for commercial use.

Since early in his career, Jackson’s been known as a Ford guy. In the early ’90s he sang about old Mercurys in what seemed like a truly un-influenced-by-PR-department-cash way. Though, I think he’s moreover an American muscle kind of guy.

Regardless, Ford most likely saw the success of scoring Chevy commercials with Bob Seger, and decided to come up with its own brand of sturdy music meets sturdy trucks. What better way to challenge a little bit of rock and roll than with a little bit of country?

Chevy had already nailed it by using a classic Seger song that didn’t need any re-writing. ‘Like A Rock’ in all of their commercials is word-for-word the same song that was cut back in 1986. It was a great long-term strategy; a whole generation of people had a hard time hearing Seger belt out “oOoOoh like a rock,” without seeing a gold bowtie emblem in their head. I guess Jackson didn’t have any lyrics that Ford thought it could appropriate wholesale, but figured ‘Mercury Blues,’ was already close so surely something could be done.

Cashing In on Big Country Appeal

Tune to The Nashville Network on Saturday night, during a commercial break from The Grand Ol’ Opry, and check out this ultra ’90s gem:

Oh, and this one, too:

Instead of being crazy about a Mercury, three syllables, he was crazy about a Ford truck, two syllables. It was probably a little awkward at first to Jackson fans’ ears, but it certainly worked. Plus, the visuals have more country aesthetic than a rural antique store chocked-full of old Coke bottles and wagon wheels.

It’s a different kind of way to get the message across, too. Instead of slathering on the “tough men doing a lot of tough things” visuals to convey the toughness in the lyrics, these visuals are more lifestyle-centric, with accompanying revised lyrics telling you why Ford’s the way to go. Both versions have big appeal to America’s heartland, where elbow grease is a resource utilized daily, and the office is a big blue country sky.

The Next Level

These were great and all, but they can’t stack up to the brilliance that was Ford Country, a play on words to ‘Gone Country’:

Let’s not forget about this one, either:

How genius are these? Cash in on a song that reached the top of the Billboard country charts, that everyone who’s ever been inclined to purchase a truck knows. Heck, even those who weren’t, I’m not sure you could get through the early ’90s without somehow hearing this track. Despite these commercials hitting the airwaves in the late ’90s, the song was still quite commonplace in American country music.

Like the Mercury-to-Ford-truck lyrical revisions, these are quite a bit different than the original. But it all works so well, and even matches ‘Gone Country’s’ syllable count.

The visuals are great: People of all walks of life having a good time, and utilizing their Ford trucks to easily get the job done. It’s also about inclusion; hard-working folk are hanging out in Ford Country, because that’s where they belong. The camera work is solid as well, and the warm tint on some of the footage conveys, well, warmth, as well as folks who work in dirt and mud. You can’t do a whole lot better than all of this in just thirty seconds.

I think Chevy might have a slight upper-hand in messaging, purely due to doing way more of their ‘Like a Rock’ commercials for far longer (plus, those drum hits are flawless), but Ford Country is still in the Top 5 of American truck marketing campaigns for sure.

What do you think about AJ and his work with Ford? Will the Ford Country lyrics be stuck in your head for the next week, too? Because it’s stuck like a 2WD Ram 1500 high-centered on a muddy hill for me.

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