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Ford’s Cringe Meme Posts Aren’t How You Sell People on EVs

Memes are supposed to bring people together, not drive them apart.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk is known for his love of memes, sharing them on Twitter to the applause of his dedicated fanbase. It seems that Ford has seen these efforts, and decided to do something similar itself to push the case for electric vehicles. Sadly, the results lack subtlety and are as cringe as you’d expect.

The posts mostly target EV skeptics, and Ford didn’t pull any punches. It’s rare for an automaker to outright insult anyone in its advertising, but Ford’s dankest memery goes in hard. One image mocks people who claim they would be stranded by forgetting to charge an EV, noting that they would rarely forget to charge their phone, watch, or headphones each night. Another ridicules those who “only drive to school and work each day” for worrying that 250 miles of range isn’t enough.

Others are fun and more light-hearted. It is, after all, reasonable to note that the quiet environment of an EV does indeed have some solid karaoke potential. Perhaps the most scything, however, is one that insults America itself for lusting after the same old SUVs, instead of falling in love with EVs like the Mach E, which combines handling and performance “all with the spirit of a freaking MUSTANG.” The memes try very hard to celebrate the main selling points of electric vehicles. 

It’s a strange decision, with Ford choosing to criticize people for buying conventional SUVs despite the fact that it sells hundreds of thousands of them every year. If anything, automakers should laud customers for buying the same old crap. It cuts down on development costs, after all, and a predictable customer is the easiest one to sell to.

The tone is strange and poorly targetted. Memes from Elon, for example, typically assume the audience is in on the joke, letting fans laugh along with the Tesla CEO at a common enemy. Ford, however, addressed their memes to “ALL OF YOU” who are apparently too stupid to understand EVs or how to use them. Getting derided by a car company doesn’t exactly leave potential customers with a good feeling at the end of the day. 

Creating a meme that allowed existing fans of Ford’s EVs to laugh at outside detractors would have done more to build positive feelings of solidarity and belonging. No amount of shiba inus and hackneyed tropes will endear people if you’re laughing at them. A couple of efforts from Ford do take this tack, but the posts from the brand fail to connect on some fundamental level. 

Obviously, Ford has reason to push electric vehicle technology. The company has invested heavily in models like the Mach-E and F-150 Lightning. However, those models are already selling faster than Ford can build them regardless of any lingering anti-EV sentiment in the marketplace. One could easily say that Ford is already doing enough. Letting its electric vehicles speak for themselves has netted Ford a customer base desperate for every last EV it can build. 

Thus, heading to social media to essentially call people idiots for not “getting” electric vehicles seems unnecessarily inflammatory. If the goal was simply to generate social media engagement, it may have succeeded. The memes do little to educate people on what it’s like to live with an EV, though. Instead, the posts seem to have drawn more attention for their cringey nature that makes it feel like someone at Ford is trying way, way too hard to be down with the youth. 

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