Has the Ford Motor Company completely lost its marbles? It is possible, what with imports repeatedly smacking the once mighty domestics upside the head. Times are tough for the big three.

Over at Ford they claim to have set a new course. This latest turnaround attempt has been dubbed “bold moves.”

“Bold moves” is right. Enter the weirdest commercial I think I have ever seen.

Cue the happy family. Two kids, their parents, even a dog. Watch them driving through picturesque scenery, laughing, talking and playing. They stop at a roadside market and skip joyfully around. Next, happy family hits the beach for a run around. Snap some photos for the album. What a great day, smiles all around. Cue more driving shots.

But what’s this? We see the small boy’s face looking out the window. Something’s wrong. He’s nervous, concerned. Why the trepidation?

The Ford Freestyle pulls to a stop in front of a small row of one-bedroom condos. Dad exits the car and hugs the kids, saying…goodbye? He looks, very maturely at his wife and says “Thanks for inviting me along.” She responds with a knowing, but tight smile, and says “Sure.” Mom and kids drive off while dad waves from the doorstep of his “lonely guy – she got the house” walk-up.

What? Did I just see a divorced family being used to sell a Ford Freestyle crossover? Yup, and Ford is banking big on this series of ads. Supposedly they were designed to reflect “who we are” and “real life.” Real life? If I wanted real life I certainly wouldn’t be watching TV.

The only feeling I had at the end of this commercial was depressing sadness. Mom, dad and family are separated. They sometimes get together on weekends. This is a heartbreakingly crushing image to ingest. I know these things happen but in a car ad? No Ford, I did not notice the paint or trim levels available on the car. I was too busy crying. You cannot convince me that even divorced people want to see this on TV. It’s a downer. Even if your divorce was the single best thing that ever happened to you I highly doubt you would pimp it to sell a car (okay, maybe a corvette).

This is nuts. Maybe the next ad will see “young Johnny” going down to the bar to retrieve his now alcoholic father. Look, Johnny’s driving him back to the condo in the roomy Ford Freestyle with the fold flat seats and spacious cargo area. Close up on dad as he sleeps it off in safety and comfort.

Look, real life is icky. It’s no accident that tampon ads show people running along the beach or walking in the park. We’re all trying to make “real life” better. Therefore, I don’t see this spot moving a lot of Freestyles.

Pick any search engine and type in “Ford divorce ad.” It should come up pretty easy. I will admit the ad was totally different than anything I’d ever seen before. To be fair, the spot did motivate a spontaneous chat with my wife, though mainly to ensure that I hadn’t ticked her off recently. You see I’d hate to lose access to the house, car and, oh yeah, the children. Come to think of it, maybe this bizarre advertising amalgam does have a higher purpose after all.

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