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Ford: Very Gay Raptor

The brand that built the category of tough, is now helping redefine it.

Ford has proudly built a strong culture of ‘tough’ in their category-leading pick-up trucks. But unfortunately, that ‘tough’ culture can sometimes come with an undercurrent of toxic masculinity, with discrimination and homophobia creeping into everyday conversations. 

This came to light when Ford launched its most ‘badass’ nameplate, the Ranger Raptor via film on YouTube – one commenter remarked that the colour was “Very Gay… paint it in ‘BlackNGold’ instead”. So Ford responded by re-editing the online film, to give the Ranger Raptor a new digital rainbow paint job, and reposted it across Ford’s social channels. 

The response phenomenal but mixed, with many calling for Ford to make the ‘Very Gay’ Raptor real, and others expressing disgust, and threatening to boycott the brand. As a brand with a long-term commitment to LGBTQ+ allyship and a passionate LGBTQ+ employee base, the response to Very Gay Raptor inspired Ford to go even further. It’s time to redefine tough and drive out discrimination.

Our Idea:

The idea behind Very Gay Raptor was simple: Ford believes that being ‘tough’ includes being unafraid to challenge discrimination, so they began a mission to ‘redefine tough’ - even at the risk of alienating its own audience.

The first step in ‘redefining tough’ began as social clapback to a homophobic comment – the Very Gay Raptor appeared with its digital paint job, emblazoning the vehicle with a glittery rainbow paint job, and the message ‘very gay was a compliment, right?’ After an exceptional response, with many commenters saying ‘Ford should make it real’.

A real-life Very Gay Raptor, the uncompromisingly inclusive pick-up truck, debuted at Cologne’s Christopher Street Day Pride parade, wrapped in 30 metres of rainbow and gold glitter alpha foil and finished with heart and rainbow decals, making headlines around the world.

Garnering attention, where ever it went – Very Gay Raptor continued its mission to ‘redefine tough’ as the catalyst to a series of ‘Tough Talks’; difficult conversations hosted by Gareth Thomas, the first openly gay international rugby player’, created for YouTube. Shining a light on ‘toxic masculinity’ that appears in many ‘tough cultures, ‘Tough Talks’ challenges stereotypes in order to foster allyship within car culture. And, what better place to do this than Goodwood’s Festival of Speed. This Summer Very Gay Raptor was embedded in the heart of this iconic motoring event, bringing ‘Tough Talks’ to a live audience for the first time.

Ford won’t stop there. Very Gay Raptor’s mission to drive industry change continues...

Our Strategy:

As a major protagonist in automotive culture and long-term champion of LGBTQ+ rights and inclusion, Ford embraced the challenge to drive industry change through a clear message to car lovers, everywhere: Ford is redefining tough in order to drive out discrimination. 

Working with Ford’s Pride ERG team the tonality was intentional: Proud, not aggressive. Playful but purposeful. Reactive but not retaliatory. This was about allyship, not opportunism. When it came to the ‘IRL Very Gay Raptor’ Ford let it speak for itself. Revealed at Cologne’s Christopher Street Day Parade, proudly driven by members of Ford’s Pride ERG, the event-day buzz was the perfect platform to take our message far and wide. 

Within hours, the #VeryGayRaptor was trending on social media and quickly became Ford of Europe’s most successful organic social media posts ever. Ford didn’t stop there. A critical part of the strategy was ensuring this was the start of a long-term commitment to drive genuine change – not just a PR stunt.

Results and Learnings:

A combination of bold earned media activity and leveraged media partnerships resulted in the The Very Gay Raptor story performing incredibly well with 144 pieces of coverage and a reach of over 22 million. 

Unsurprisingly, but noteworthy, LGBTQI+ media has been vocal in its support of Ford and our campaign. 10 LGBTQI+ publications proactively wrote articles, including well respected titles such as Pink News, Advocate and Attitude. 

The story was also run by mainstream media; standout publications to have written about the Very Gay Raptor include: UniLad, Viral Thread, Yahoo News, Men’s Health US, Tetu, Merkur and Fox News. 

  • The campaign was recognised with a Gold Lion for Media at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2022. 
  • Popular TikTok influencer Josh Helfgott (4.5M followers) posted a positive video of the #VeryGayRaptor, viewed 5.5 million times, 1.3M likes and 12.3k comments
  • The Very Gay Raptor has kickstarted Ford's leadership of a cross-industry anti-discrimination program called Driving Pride to help transform the category.



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Very Gay Raptor

Ford has proudly built a strong culture of ‘tough’ in their category-leading pick-up trucks. But unfortunately, that ‘tough’ culture can sometimes come with an undercurrent of toxic masculinity, with discrimination and homophobia creeping into everyday conversations.

Business Objectives

Disciplines

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+44 7769 243216 ishan.chatterjee@vmlyr.com