Ford recently put its social media strategy in the hands of an obnoxious, misogynistic and sorry-looking orange puppet called Doug.
At first glance, it may not seem like the most logical step in the world, but then, the car giants are certainly not the first to use puppet power to try and generate interest in their ad campaigns.
Puppets, after all, can get away with things you or I cannot. For example, an obnoxious pig that hits people is not going to charm anyone. But stick a hand up its bum and a give it a blonde wig and you have the much-loved Miss Piggy.
It's the same with the Doug. Ask a male actor to deliver his lines and it would just cause offence. But because it's a puppet calling a female reporter 'Prettypants', it is OK.
In fact, Doug, voiced by comedian Paul F. Tompkins, even has his own YouTube channel, and an army of fans on Twitter and Facebook. Not that you will be seeing him on TV. Doug is intended purely for social video.
“We really developed these videos for the YouTube generation, if you will, that really enjoys entertainment,” says Jon Beebe, digital communications manager at Ford.
“The purpose of the videos is to make people take a left-hand turn from their daily web activities and pay attention to Doug the personality, but also the vehicle that he’s in and discussing.”
Doug is also 'a left-hand turn' for Ford, but - to continue the driving metaphor - it seems the car giants are at least steering in the right direction with this bold approach to social video. After all, social media allows brands to be a little bit more edgy and experimental in their content.
But which have been the most successful? Well, we have compiled a chart of the most shared puppet commercials of all time, based on the number of shares on Facebook, Twitter and the blogosphere.
But if you prefer, you can watch the top 10 below.
Is your favourite in there? Let us know.
1. Sesame Street – Smell Like A Monster
2. Nike MVPuppets – Puppet Chalk
3. Air NZ – Snoop Dogg & Rico Rap Video
4. Brisk – Ozzy Osbourne
5. Wilkins Coffee
6. Air NZ – Happy Hour
7. Nike MVPuppets – Blitzen Rap
9. Nike MVPuppets – Three Rings
10. Nike MVPuppets – Lil Dez