Ford Focus Brochures From The Early 2000s Are Full Of Cringe

Back when auto companies used to sell affordable small cars, they would often market them to young people. Typically, these were the buyers automakers wanted to get into these products and, in theory, move up through the brand. While brands like Scion were more successful at reaching young people, others tried too hard, sometimes embarrassingly so. Take Ford with the first-generation Focus.

1999-2004 Ford Focus Wagon

1999-2004 Ford Focus Wagon
Image: Ford

The Focus was Ford’s attempt at a true world car going into the 21st Century. Wearing the brand’s distinctive (for the time) “New Edge” styling and offered in three and five-door hatch body styles as well as a sedan and wagon, there was something for everyone. But brochures for the Focus from the time showed just how hard Ford was trying to convince young people that the Focus was cool and hip enough for their lives. Take this description in the 2002 Focus brochure where the design of the Focus ZTS sedan is compared to trying to get into a club.

Image for article titled Ford Focus Brochures From The Early 2000s Are Full Of Cringe

Screenshot: Ford

Getting into the best clubs can be pretty tough. You’ve got to know how to look, know how to move – basically, you just have to be in the know. The same thing goes in the car world. There’s got to be more than just great curves and shiny paint. The totally fresh ZTS definitely fits with the scene.

Or this small paragraph from the 2001 Focus brochure, which compares the three-door hatch Focus ZX3 to someone having their life together.

It doesn’t look like its brothers and sisters. And it certainly doesn’t act like them. Maybe it’s the odd number of doors. The three door has an entirely different outlook on life. Unique lines combined with terrific road manners, it’s really got the form and function thing down.

Or this description of the Focus’ engines from the 2001 brochure, comparing the two engine choices and their peppiness to someone hopped up on double espressos. Mind you, the base engine of the Focus was notoriously bad.

Focus comes with either the 2.0L SPI or the 2.0L Zetec engine, depending on the model and/or which one you opt for. One’s really zippy. The other’s super zippy. Think of two of your hyper pals after they’ve had a couple of double espressos. Now you’ve got the picture.

1999-2003 Ford Focus Sedan

1999-2003 Ford Focus Sedan
Image: Ford

Even little things were cringe, like how the bolt-on wheel covers were described: “Focus LX struts its stuff on 14″ steel wheels with “bolt-on” covers. Industrial chic hits the street.” Just…why? Even the color choices were trying too hard. Egg Yolk Yellow? CD Silver Metallic? Infra-red? Ok, I admit Infra-red is kind of cool, but you get the point.

Fortunately, Ford’s brochures on the Focus matured a bit over the years, especially when more serious models like the Focus ST and Focus Electric were introduced. Even then though I wish I could go back in time and tell Ford and other companies’ marketing department at the time: don’t try so hard. If the product is good, it’ll sell itself.

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