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Vehicles on the assembly line at Ford Motor Co. of Canada's Oakville Assembly Plant on Jan. 4, 2013.

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

Ford Canada is looking to lighten up.

The auto maker has partnered with comedy festival Just For Laughs to produce its newest ad. The commercial is styled after the Gags television show that Just For Laughs produces. The show features a series of hidden-camera pranks on unsuspecting people in public places.

The Ford ad has an actor playing a criminal drive up to a curb in a 2013 Focus ST, abandoning the car, and before running from police, tossing away a bag of money. The police then arrive to question the unsuspecting person standing on the sidewalk, who is now surrounded by the evidence.

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After being asked to put up their hands, and trying to explain the situation, the bystanders are then shown the camera to complete the gag. It's a type of prank advertising that has become much more common as marketers test out ways to make their ads more entertaining so that people will sit through them.

It also speaks to a growing business model for comedy troupes, who are finding there is money in creating "branded content" for advertisers. The Second City, for example, has a division dedicated to corporate videos that is growing because of this demand.

The new ad, developed by agency Y&R Canada, is currently airing on television and begins running in movie theatre pre-shows in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver starting on Thursday. It is the first time Ford has teamed up with Just For Laughs, but the company says it is hoping this will be the start of a long-term partnership.

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