Ford’s flagship fully electric vehicle, the Mustang Mach-E, had got itself a faster brother – the performance version Mach-E GT.   Despite the impressive statistics many petrolheads struggle to equate electric and performance, and not all of the fans of the classic Mustang line embraced the all-electric evolution.   The creative ATL platform was ‘Mach-E GT Brings Performance Swagger to Electrification’, and so our earned challenge was set:​  

 Create a PR-led bold and disruptive moment with swagger at its heart timed for 8 July (Goodwood Festival of Speed) ​as a catalyst for GT order banks opening, and address barriers that our audience may have to switching to electric.  

We lent on our behavioural science experts to understand some of the barriers that people have when considering a switch from petrol to electric. Our research showed us that: 

There’s an idea that petrolheads and electric vehicles aren’t compatible, and they struggle to believe in electric as the future of performance and don’t yet associate EVs with presence and power.   

The human brain is not wired for change and resists it even more if we think we have to give something up. ​For some, an EV means sacrificing the fun or driving.​  

Society is placing more value on sustainable choices, yet there are some things people are unwilling to compromise on, no matter the environmental consequence.  

We then conducted a survey in leading markets to explore thing things that people feel that they’ll miss when they migrate from petrol to electric cars. Missing the smell of petrol was one surprising response that helped inform our creative response. 

Giving up is hard to do, so we planned to launch a programme to help wean petrolheads (and the petrolhead in all of us) off of the internal combustion engines and allow us to address some of our irrational hang-ups. ​​Our strategy was to: 

GET petrolheads who have an irrational love of ICE  

TO fall in love with Mach E  

BY showing that, just like the spirit of Mustang, the benefits of driving transcend engine   

​​We wanted to remind them that they love the drive, not the engine: They’re not giving up burning rubber, they’re giving up burning petrol.  

As part of the Mustang line, the Mach-E GT positions itself as a ​car with swagger and soul in an automotive category that can be logical and soulless, so we wanted to tap into the senses and our emotional relationship with what we drive.    

The brand has always been emotional and evocative, so we sought to dial into the senses – in this instance, the sense of smell that has not been associated with the switch from ICE to electric.   

At the heart of our execution was a simple visual of a scent bottle with a petrol pump dispenser that communicates the counterintuitive idea of celebrating a smell that many people wouldn’t feel is attractive.   

The overarching plan aimed to create a programme with a series of steps to help people stuck on the internal combustion engine to feel more confident about moving to electric, with a humorous, tongue in cheek tone of voice​. It would be called ‘Petrolheads Anonymous’.​  

The first step in the programme was a fun intervention that responded to one of the things petrolheads could miss: the scent associated with a petrol car.​  

The execution was three-fold:​  

- Targeted consumer research to discover what drivers thought they would miss about petrol cars​   (70% of drivers felt they’d miss the smell of petrol​ ) 

- A bespoke fragrance inspired by the smell of petrol and driving, created in partnership with a premier luxury scent developer (Olfiction)​, along with a bottle concept that communicated the idea (working with Eskimo Square on 3D renders) . We created Mach-Eau – a nostalgic petrol-infused fragrance for drivers of electric performance cars​ .

- Reveal and sampling at Goodwood, coinciding with the announcement of order banks opening​ . A mock perfume ad was displayed in the paddock next to the Mach-E GT​ , with the fragrance sampled on spray cards which carried the order bank opening message.  

Our results were impressive:

Ford of Europe’s best performing non-automotive targeted story of 2021​ 

The Mach-E GT order bank sold out of all available units.

3,400 pieces of coverage across Europe with a total Prime reach of 390.7 million​ .

These included features in The Week, being listed in the Top 10 Coolest Things This Week in GQ and even on Teslarati, which sparked a deluge of comments!

1,500 further pieces of coverage globally with a total Prime reach of 56 million​.

It also made a noise on social media with 2,464 social posts (excluding news), from 2,166 authors, with a social reach of 99.9m impressions.

174.7k impressions and 3.4k engagements on FoE’s social channels (2 items of content)​.

Mach-Eau was even featured as a question on Belgian quiz show, De Slimste Mens van de Wereld, and as news features from Thailand to Finland​.

Following the success of the story we were inundated with requested for samples, and subsequently have manufactured a full production run of the fragrance in 7.5ml sample bottles. The samples have been distributed all over Europe and the US and we have also manufactured a prototype bottle for display purposes.

Our low-cost campaign tapped into a counterintuitive insight that allowed us to spark a fresh conversation about our emotional relationship with the car we drive and what stops us switching to electric.  

Responding to the changing situation during the pandemic, we seized the opportunity with a physical execution at one of the first events where our target audiences were able to attend, while creating an asset that was able to travel online with universal international appeal.  


  • Ford of EuropeClient
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