By Barry Janoff
November 14, 2016: In their own cartoon universes, characters from Sailor Moon and Dragon Ball Z use special powers to defend the Earth from alien forces.
In their Madison Avenue universe, they use their powers to seek the keys to automobiles from Ford.
Building on a strategy it used earlier this year to target millennials, Ford has tapped into popular Japanese anime characters from the two Japan-based series in new spots for the car company’s Fusion and Focus.
The spots are part of an umbrella "Overdubs" effort in which the actual anime characters are heard to utter such statements as "The new Ford Fusion is the most stylish car I’ve ever seen" and "We want a car that has an audio system from Sony for listening to our favorite tunes."
As Ford explains it, "We’re picking some of our favorite TV shows and videos games and taking bad lip-synching to the next level."
For authenticity, the company was able to use the actual people who voice the anime characters.
Sailor Moon is a comic book series published in Japan from 1991-1997, and as an anime TV series from 1992-1997 (which was re-run more recently, including in the U.S. on Cartoon Network).
It tells the story of a young girl named Usagi, who is transformed into Sailor Moon, one of a group of schoolgirls who are incarnations of super-powered alien princesses. They use their powers to combat forces seeking to rule Earth, with Usage aided by her transformed cat, Luna.
The Sailor Moon spot is timed to not only sell the 2017 Fusion but also raise awareness for a feature-length Sailor Moon movie, due out this January, under the auspices in North America of Viz Media.
In "Sailor Moon’s Ford Fusion Dream," Usage is seen in one of her favorite pastimes— looking out her bedroom window and gazing at the stars.
"Look," she says to Luna, "I see the constellations Sagittarius, Libra and the new Ford Fusion. I just love it so much. the sculpted exterior, the newly redesigned grill and wheels. It’s the most stylish car I’ve ever seen."
Her cat Luna, who possess the power of speech, replies, "The new Fusion has more than just looks. It offers driver-assist features like pre-collision assist with pedestrian protections and adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go. They can help make driving less stressful."
The upcoming Salior Moon film, which will have a limited run, is a re-release from 1993 in a remastered HD format.
Dragon Ball Z, which dates back to the 1990s and airs in the U.S. on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim, is featured in another Overdubs creative.
In a spot for the Ford Focus, "The Ultimate Wish Is Granted," Dragon Ball Z’s main characters, Krillin and Gohan, call upon Porunga, a magical dragon creature who is able to grant wishes. "Now that you have summoned me, what are your three wishes?"
The two boys have their priorities. "First, we want a car that has an audio system from Sony for listening to our favorite tunes. Second, we want another car, but this one comes with the rearview camera so you can see where you are going when you reverse. And third, we want a car with an EPA estimated 42 highway miles per gallon in case we need to drive around Planet Namek (where much of the story takes place) finding the dragon balls."
"Actually, all of those features are standard in the Ford Focus," says Porunga. "It just takes one wish."
"But we want three different cars," reply Krillin and Gohan.
"Enough!"says Porunga. "I’m just giving you the Ford Focus," followed by text, "Conserve your wishes."
Dragon Ball Z characters are also featured in a second spot for the Ford Fusion, "Witness An Unbelievable Fusion," in which they combine their powers, usually to ward off evil, for another purpose.
"It worked. Look at that stylish exterior. Looking like a true warrior. this Fusion is unbelievable." One of the characters then exclaims, "I call shotgun."
This past April, Ford ran a series of anime Overdubs spots for its 2017 Fusion Titanium and Focus, including a spot dedicated to its Ford Focus Electric.