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Ford's C-Max ads call out Toyota's Prius with gentle humor

Ford Motor Company hopes to earn a place on the hybrid map in the U.S. with its new C-Max.

The company knows that won't be easy. 

No one comes even close to the dominant sales position of the Toyota Prius line of vehicles - the original Prius, the smaller Prius C, and the larger Prius V.

Ford's new C-Max has a major bragging point:  it beats the fuel economy of the Prius V by 7 miles per gallon on the highway.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_DCykU616W0

The Prius is beloved by its owners; it has one of the highest loyalty ratings of any car. 

So Ford has chosen a gentle style of humor over an aggressive pitch to sell the C-Max.

Ford today launched a series of ads using a cartoon character, "La Linea," -- a revival of the classic 1970s character from a popular Italian animated children’s series.

The ads show the character overcoming the performance limitations of a Toyota Prius, by driving a Ford C-Max.  You can see one of the ads here:

“The ads are done with just the right tonality of competitiveness versus a strong competitor. It clearly positions our product in a fun way,” says Matt VanDyke, director, U.S. Marketing Communications, Ford Motor Company .

From Ford's press release:

Plenty of opportunities exist for Ford to position itself in a positive way against Prius. For example, as the first Ford hybrid to achieve equal city and highway fuel economy figures, C-MAX Hybrid delivers EPA-certified 47 mpg city, 47 mpg highway ratings – 7 mpg better than Priusv on the highway – for a 47 mpg combined rating.

  

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Radio. She began her career at Michigan Radio as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.