Ford’s 4-wheel-drive truck business had been booming - lots of volume but poor margins, kept low by strong competition. Its car business had coped in the past by upselling higher specifications of a vehicle, adding a
more luxurious and high performance interior with every kind of accessory - all at higher margins.
this was all about delivering a better class of product through rugged, precision engineering.
But that no longer worked with big pick-up trucks, which are used daily for work, at the weekend and for the whole family. Traditional ideas for speccing up an interior, like choices of leather, chrome or a selection of carpets were just not being bought by customers - they wanted their truck to be special, but not like a saloon or limousine.
SP’s message to Ford was simple - you don’t have to reach into the locker of traditional luxury to add value; there are other ways of doing it, especially for tough off-road vehicle. We called that strategy ‘Tough Luxury’; it is a strategy to deliver a better class of product through rugged, precision engineering, quality of materials and quality of design.
We developed a visual language to show Ford how this principle worked, and why it would speak so strongly to its customers. Ford bought into the idea and commissioned us to create a full size concept interior, to be built into an existing F350 truck and shown at the Detroit show. At the event, it got moved into their own show vehicle, the Tonka truck (named after the stylised rugged kids toys).
Tough Luxury went on to influence the new Ford Atlas interior concept, released in 2014.