New Ford ads from Denmark tackle divorce, and do it surprisingly well

Divorce may seem an unlikely subject for an ad campaign, though this series of Ford ads from Denmark makes for compelling viewing, and does an excellent marketing job too.

When we think of advertising, we usually think of an idealised vision of the world, where we all fall in love, look beautiful and never die. Of course, we all know the lie in this, and ad agencies and brands are increasingly realising that there is a benefit in addressing the tougher aspects of life.

It is very difficult to do this well, however, which is what makes these new ads from Ford stand out. They are directed (and written, in collaboration with Ingeborg Topsøe) by Daniel Kragh-Jacobsen, and tell the story of a family struggling with the repercussions of divorce.

It is a quiet story – where some brands may have gone in for grand, sentimental gestures, this story is minimal and realistic. Perhaps wisely, Kragh-Jacobsen avoids too much high emotion: there are no screaming stand offs between the parents and instead the emphasis is on how to successfully navigate the fall out of a divorce, not what caused it in the first place. But it is still gripping, and by the end I felt genuinely interested in all of the characters and wanted to know more.

So where does the car come in, you ask? Well it’s there all the time in the background – two cars in fact, one for the mum and one for the dad. But there are no lingering brand shots, and the car is merely a prop – a setting for one rather awkward scene between the father and his two children, and a place of refuge for the little boy who is trying to take a stand against his parents’ break up.

Again – and I cannot reiterate this enough – this could have gone terribly wrong if the brand had tried to shoehorn its way into the scene even slightly, but as it is it feels authentic. Cars really are a backdrop to our lives and the car brand that can lay a claim to being a support to families – through good times and bad – is onto a very strong marketing message. A brave but engaging approach by Ford.

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