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In new campaign, Ford looks to bring Bronco Sport 'out of the shadows' of bigger sibling

Jordyn Grzelewski
The Detroit News

In the 1960s, Ford Motor Co. had an internal code name for the 1966 model year Bronco that would go on to become one of the automaker's most iconic vehicles: G.O.A.T., short for "Goes Over Any Terrain."

More than a half-century later the "G.O.A.T." is making a comeback, and Ford is spotlighting it with, well, goats.

A shot from Ford Motor Co.'s new ad campaign for the all-new Bronco Sport, emphasizing the vehicle's seven-terrain "G.O.A.T." modes.

The Blue Oval on Saturday will release a new commercial, dubbed "Raised by Goats," during the NFL game on Fox, the first push in a major new advertising campaign for the full-size Bronco's smaller sibling, Bronco Sport. The campaign comes during the Sport's launch and ahead of the full-size Bronco's release later this year. 

The first of three upcoming campaign spots tells the story of a herd of goats that come upon a colt trapped under a rock on a mountain. The goats go on to rescue the colt and raise him as their own. Eventually, the colt transforms into a bronco — Bronco Sport, to be exact.

The ad was shot on Mt. Baker outside Seattle, and involved an extensive process for casting and training the goats and horses that are the stars of the video.

On Monday, Ford will debut a second commercial, dubbed "Go There," during Good Morning America. A third spot, titled "Find Your Wild," will come out in February.

The ad spots, produced by Wieden+Kennedy New York, aim to raise awareness of Bronco Sport amid much buzz for its full-size sibling, as well as highlight Sport's capability, adventure-readiness, interior features and customization options. All three remind viewers of the Bronco's G.O.A.T. modes that assist in tackling seven different types of terrain.

Bronco Sport, which launched at the end of 2020 and sold 5,120 units through the end of last year, has earned solid reviews from auto critics. It's been touted as a similarly-rugged, yet more affordable (with pricing starting around $28,000), option within the Bronco family of vehicles. 

Bronco Sport, which is built on the same unibody platform as the Ford Escape, shares design cues with the full-size Bronco, including round headlights and a boxy body. Among other features, it comes with second-row storage beneath the floor, a cargo bay capable of holding two upright bikes, and floodlights in the rear gate. Multiple engine and trim options are available.

"This is an incredible addition to our lineup, adding in a rugged utility that's just what people are looking for right now," said Matt VanDyke, Ford's U.S. marketing director. "This vehicle is designed for customers who are looking to go anywhere. They want capability. They've got versatility needs. They're not Point A to Point B people. They're seeking outdoor adventure."

The reintroduction of Bronco a quarter-century after it was discontinued is Ford's answer to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV's successful Jeep franchise, as well as to diehard Bronco fans who have been clamoring for the vehicle's return.

The return of Bronco also comes as the Blue Oval undertakes a major portfolio refresh, with new all-electric Mustang Mach-E and redesigned 2021 F-150 now arriving at dealerships. 

Ford revealed the Bronco family of vehicles to much fanfare last year, but those who were involved in the new Bronco Sport campaign said they wanted to find a way to differentiate the Sport from the full-size model.

"Bronco got a big buzz, but there was some concern that Bronco Sport wasn't getting the buzz that Bronco got," said Stuart Jennings, creative director for Wieden+Kennedy. "We wanted to make sure that Bronco Sport was able to step out of the shadows of big Bronco."

The Blue Oval says that with Bronco Sport, it is targeting people with outdoorsy, athletic lifestyles who are always on the go. They also, of course, are targeting Jeep customers.

So far, the automaker reports strong interest in Bronco Sport. In its latest U.S. sales release, it reported that the vehicle is spending an average of only six days on dealer lots.

The campaign also features social media pushes, and to-be-announced brand ambassadors.

"People have been waiting for the big Bronco to appear for years," said VanDyke. "What we wanted to do was, with this campaign, give (Bronco Sport) its own space to really stand apart."

jgrzelewski@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @JGrzelewski