Ford hybrid gets Fringe treatment on TV this fall

While KITT gets the headline from Ford in its announcement of FoMoCo vehicles appearing in fall TV shows, the green-minded among us can find a mention of a hybrid powerplant on the set of Fringe a few paragraphs down - after talk of KITT (it turns into a F-150!) and Desperate Housewifes. Fringe is the latest show from J. J. Abrams ( Lost and Alias).

Apparently, a main character in the FOX sci-fi drama Fringe, FBI Special Agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) will track down E.T. or whatever in a 2009 Escape Hybrid. The use of the honkin' hybrid shows just what a greenie Abrams is, said Ross Mackenzie of Ford Global Brand Entertainment in a statement. "J. J. Abrams is a big environmentalist, and he wanted to have a hybrid vehicle on the show. Since Olivia Dunham is the lead character, the Escape Hybrid was a nice fit."

If you want to know how the 2009 Escape Hybrid performs in the real word, check out our review. There's also the Ford release and a video teaser ad for Fringe after the break.

[Source: Ford]



In what may be one of the most highly anticipated product integrations this fall, the 2008 Ford Shelby GT500KR will star as KITT, the super intelligent, computerized talking car in the new television series "Knight Rider"

  • Ford brand vehicles will be featured in some of this fall's hottest television shows, including "Desperate Housewives," "Fringe," and "Knight Rider"
  • Vehicles featured in upcoming fall television shows include the 2009 Ford Flex, 2009 Lincoln MKS, 2009 Mazda RX8 and the 2009 Ford Escape Hybrid
  • Ford's Global Brand Entertainment team works to "cast" Ford-branded vehicles in television, movies and other media

DEARBORN, Mich., Sept. 3, 2008 – When the character of Tom Scavo drives down Wisteria Lane this season on ABC's "Desperate Housewives," he'll be behind the wheel of one of Ford Motor Company's most talked about new vehicles, the 2009 Ford Flex.

The inclusion of Flex on "Desperate Housewives" is one of several Ford product integrations coming to television this fall, said Bob Witter of Ford Global Brand Entertainment, the Ford office in Beverly Hills that works to "cast" Ford-branded vehicles in movies, television and other media.

"A lot of people drive a car because it's an extension of their personality, and in the world of Hollywood, that's one of the ways that they develop characters," Witter said. "We work together with show producers to match the car personality with the character personality."

In the case of the Tom Scavo character on "Desperate Housewives," played by actor Doug Savant, Witter says the Flex was a perfect fit.

"Tom is the type of guy who wants to be seen in a car that's different," he said. "He doesn't necessarily belong in a high-end exotic car, yet he needs a vehicle that's really bold and that stands out. Pairing him up with the Flex was a natural."

Witter says that when he went to Universal Studios to "audition" the Flex, he sneaked along two other Ford brand vehicles to introduce to the show's producers and writing staff – the new 2009 Lincoln MKS and the 2009 Mazda 6.

"The MKS wasn't something they were initially planning, but when they saw it they really loved it, so it is going to be the vehicle for a new character on the show named Dave Williams," Witter said. "As the character builds in the show, we're anticipating that the vehicle will get more exposure."

Producers also were interested in a vehicle for the character of young Andrew Van De Kamp. Witter says they were impressed with the Mazda 6, but the mid-size sedan didn't quite gel with Andrew's personality.

"That's where we give and take a little bit. We discussed it with the writers, and we agreed that Andrew needed a smaller, sportier type of car," he said. "So we came up with something that suited the character a lot better, the Mazda RX8. It still became a win-win."

The new season of "Desperate Housewives" begins Sunday, Sept. 28, at 9:00/8:00 p.m. on ABC.


Ford vehicles also have "supporting roles" in the new science fiction drama series "Fringe," which premieres Tuesday, Sept. 9, at 8:00/7:00 p.m. on FOX. "Fringe" is the latest show from acclaimed Hollywood producer/director J. J. Abrams, who also is the creator of "Lost" and "Alias."

"There is tremendous buzz in Hollywood surrounding this program, and we're excited to be a part of it," said Ross Mackenzie of Ford Global Brand Entertainment. "We auditioned three cars – the Escape Hybrid, the new Ford Flex and the Mustang – and the producers wanted them all, plus the Ford Fusion."

While she's investigating strange occurrences around town, the character of FBI Special Agent Olivia Dunham, played by actress Anna Torv, will drive a 2009 Escape Hybrid.

"J. J. Abrams is a big environmentalist, and he wanted to have a hybrid vehicle on the show," Mackenzie said. "Since Olivia Dunham is the lead character, the Escape Hybrid was a nice fit."

The 2009 Flex will be the fleet vehicle for the "Fringe" team.

"It is a cool car, and it suits their needs in terms of having a big vehicle that you carry people and equipment in," said Mackenzie. "Anytime they go out on official business, they'll be driving the Flex."

For the lead character of Peter Bishop, played by Joshua Jackson, Mackenzie says producers wanted a sexy car.

"The Ford Mustang was an easy pick for that," he said.

And new Ford Fusions turned out to be perfect choices for FBI Special Agent Charlie Francis, played by Kirk Acevedo, and Department.of Homeland Security Special Agent Phillip Broyles, played by Lance Reddick.

"If the show has the success we think it will, it will provide a great brand association with a great media property," Mackenzie said. "And our hope is that over time, our relationship with the show will develop so that as new products come down the pike – whether it's the new F-150 or another car – we can find opportunities to place those vehicles as well."

"Knight Rider"

In what may be one of the most highly anticipated product integrations this fall, the 2008 Ford Shelby GT500KR will star as KITT, the super intelligent, computerized talking car in the new television series "Knight Rider," which premieres Wednesday, Sept. 24, at 8:00/7:00 p.m. on NBC.

"KITT is all about technology and speed. He's a quick thinker, and he's overly intelligent," said Al Uzielli, senior advisor to Ford Global Brand Entertainment. "Mustang is the king of cool and one of the most recognized vehicles in cinema history. There's also an intelligence and sleekness to the car. For all of those reasons and more, the Shelby GT500KR was a perfect choice for this role."

In the new television series, the character of Michael Knight, played by actor Justin Bruening, teams up with the Shelby GT500KR to fight criminal forces that operate above the reach of traditional law enforcement.

According to Gary Scott Thompson, executive producer, "Knight Rider," Traceur will drive several "versions" of the Shelby GT500KR throughout the season. When the vehicle is under fire, it will transform into Attack mode.

"That car is a big secret, and it will be revealed when the show premieres," he said. "We had a Hollywood car designer create a tricked-out version of the Shelby, and we've done some really cool things to it."

And in what can only be described as a product integration dream come true, Thompson says the Shelby will transform into other Ford vehicles throughout the season.

"In the season opener, it'll morph into an F-150 pickup, and there's a reason in the story that we need to do that. That's all I can say without giving it away," he said. "But it's going to be pretty awesome and very cool."

Uzielli says placing Ford products in popular television programs like "Knight Rider," does a lot for the vehicles and for Ford.

"Nothing emotionalizes a product and makes it more understandable to a potential buyer than seeing it in an entertainment media, especially seeing it with an aspirational character," he said. "When a Ford product is thoughtfully and effectively placed in a television show or motion picture, there is always the potential to raise consideration.

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