MARCO ISLAND, FL — These days, selling cars isn’t just about, well, selling cars.

For Ford, it is also about becoming a trusted brand in an age of mistrust and AI fear.

In this video interview with Beet.TV at IAB’s Annual Leadership Meeting, Jen Brace, Chief Futurist, Ford Motor Company, explains why modern auto marketing is about more than the car.

Beyond the business of selling cars, Ford’s product development strategy is fueled by a broader horizon of social signals. “We scan signals constantly in the steep categories: social, technological, economic, environmental, and political,” Brace explains.

Ford’s approach to innovation is not confined to the automotive industry but is rather informed by wider consumer trends, such as the growing concern for mental health. Brace illustrates this approach by asking, “How can the vehicle help in this space?” suggesting that cars could be designed as a sanctuary for mental well-being.

“Consumers are looking to be able to trust a brand, to be able to support brands that align with their values,” states Brace. Brace insists that tapping into trusted networks is pivotal in cultivating brand advocates.

“People are much more likely to trust those that they know; they trust their friends and their family,” she adds, emphasizing the importance of positive messages emanating from within consumers’ personal circles.

The Double-Edged Sword of AI

When it comes to artificial intelligence (AI), Brace presents a nuanced view of consumer expectations and fears. “Half of people (are) saying that they’re afraid of AI or they don’t understand it,” she reveals, pointing out that such apprehension has increased over the past five years.

Despite the concerns, Brace also sees a silver lining where AI is viewed as a tool for simplification and improvement of lives. “They expect AI is going to help them make their work maybe a little bit easier, or to take some decisions off their plates,” she says, suggesting AI’s potential to influence not just consumer choices but also personal health and relationships.

However, Brace does not shy away from addressing the skepticism surrounding AI. “They’re concerned about what they can trust,” she points out, acknowledging the challenge in discerning the validity of AI-generated information. This tension between the hope for AI as a life-enhancing tool and the fear of misinformation presents a complex landscape for brands like Ford to navigate.

You’re watching ‘Digital Media in Transition’, a Beet.TV Leadership Series at IAB ALM 2024 presented by Sharethrough. For more videos from this series, please visit this page.