A Look at Ford Bronco Commercials Through the Ages
Over the years, the Super Bowl has come to be known not only as that ultra-high-profile event where the NFL league champion is ultimately crowned, but also as what's likely the most widely-watched proving ground for new commercials. There are plenty of people who freely admit that they still watch the Super Bowl largely just for those commercials.
This made for quite a dilemma for Ford as they were strategizing for the debut of the Bronco Sport, as the magnitude of the Super Bowl environment has altered the creative ethic for most of the commercials that air during the event, prioritizing sheer impact over brand identity and effectiveness.
With the cost of a Super Bowl commercial running in excess of $5 million and that spot being destined to be shown in the midst of other advertisers doing their best to get as "loud" -- and often as outlandish -- as possible, Ford chose to focus on creating a thoroughly compelling narrative for a spot that would air instead during the NFL Playoffs.
This was no small decision. While you can accurately make the argument that network television doesn’t have the same command over the viewing public that it once did, technology has bridged most the viewership gap for events carrying the magnitude of the Super Bowl.
According to a Sporting news report, more than 90 million people in the United States still tune into it via either traditional television or streaming services. The event may not be the ratings juggernaut it once was, but there’s no question that those Super Bowl commercials still get a lot of views but are, of course, very expensive.
Taking a Gamble That Would Pay OffWith the Bronco Sport representing the return of the Bronco nameplate, Ford did have a thoroughly compelling announcement. The return of such an iconic model, especially after its unusually lengthy hiatus, was a very big deal. The challenge, therefore, was to create a finished product that would be so effective and gripping that, despite not running during the Super Bowl, would have the air of a truly “Super Bowl worthy” commercial.
Mission accomplished, to say the least:
Taking a Look Back
Since Ford’s highly watched commercial for the Bronco Sport got the thumbs up from nearly everyone, let’s take a look back at some of its Bronco spots over the years, starting all the way back to the model’s beginning.
After watching this, one of your first takeaways might be to ponder the use of a “4-wheel drive sports car” description for an SUV. Fair point. Judging by the commercial’s reference to an available 200hp V8, this spot would have aired sometime after March of 1966, which explains the lack of a more appropriate name for the segment.
At this stage in automotive history, the SUV classification wasn’t even in use and the Bronco itself was a dramatic new offering. Its competitor, the Chevy Blazer, hadn’t yet entered the fray, so the identity of this automotive segment was still in flux.
The spot was no doubt dramatic and actually did a good job of capturing the essence of the lesser-known Bronco variants: the Bronco roadster and the Bronco pickup. As far as branding was concerned, the commercial was somewhat less specific than what we’d expect by today’s standards and you can actually count more references to the Bronco’s refined driving experience than to its off-roading ability, which was already substantial for the time.
There’s a sound reason for this. Circa the mid-’60s, any vehicles that could have possibly been compared to the Bronco would have been limited to military-based Jeeps — mainly the CJ5, a model which certainly performed its military duties admirably and had its share of admirers, but was far from refined and would have been considered downright primitive in comparison as far as the driving experience it offered.
Fast forward to the late ’70s and this launch video for the Bronco leaned pretty heavily on its rugged abilities in an off-road, rally type setting. Aesthetically speaking, this was an interesting time for the model — it had been enlarged to better compete with its rivals (the Chevy Blazer, Jeep Cherokee and Dodge Ramcharger) and it now sat on a Ford F-series chassis that served as a fitting underpinning for its robust, sturdy look.
On the other hand, as far as power was concerned, it wasn’t a time for celebration. While both the available engine options —a 352ci and a 400 ci V8 — offered substantially more displacement than the modestly-sized 289 referenced in that commercial for the first generation, by this time more stringent emission standards had taken a mighty toll on Detroit’s engine outputs. Neither of these engines could even reach 160hp, so continuing to focus on power and performance wasn’t likely to maintain much excitement.
As a result, it wouldn’t be too long before Ford would take an entirely different approach in its advertising — as this late ’70s commercial shows. This change of strategy applied not only to the Bronco, but also for Ford’s F-Series trucks and its vans, as well. The emphasis here was almost solely on bold aesthetics and the electric graphics offered via the Freewheelin’ package.
This is vintage ’70s stuff right here! Check out the Farrah Fawcett hairdo at the very opening of the commercial, as well as the guy pulling his bike out of the van, who looks like a fit version of WELCOME BACK, KOTTER’s Gabe Kaplan.
The Bronco Was An International Phenomenon
There aren’t currently any plans to make the 2021 Bronco available in Europe, a decision based in large part on the EU’s very stringent emission standards, which are so tough that even small-statured, pseudo-SUVs like the Suzuki Jimmy couldn’t make the cut.
In contrast, the excitement surrounding the first-generation Bronco was truly international in scale.
Check out this Icelandic commercial for the first-generation Bronco! Its narration is so spare you can’t help but focus on the visuals — even if you could speak the language — and it again underscores the Bronco’s dual abilities as a refined driving machine and capable navigator over rugged terrain. There’s certainly no shortage of that in Iceland.
And to cap things off, we have this 1990 Spanish language commercial for the Bronco, which also takes the emphasis back to its dependably rugged roots. By this time the model was heading toward the conclusion of its fourth generation.
As far as power output, this still wasn’t a high-water mark for Ford, as even the top-rung 351 Cleveland V8 was good for only a little more than 200hp – a definite improvement over the late ’70s counterpart but still not pulse-pounding by any means.
It was, luckily, enough power to get this Bronco where it needed to be in order to save the day in this commercial.
The soon to arrive 2-door and 4-door Broncos have definitely come a long way since their first TV advertisement, as they’ll be powered by Ford’s 2.3 liter, 270hp/310lb/ft. torque EcoBoost inline four in standard configuration, with the option of a 2.7-liter EcoBoost six that’s good for 310-horsepower and 400 lb/ft. of torque.