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Hidden mythical beasts liven up pictures of 2019 Ford Ranger pickup

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The first look at the 2019 Ford Ranger drew a crowd, but who would’ve expected to see the Loch Ness Monster in the background?

In the spirit of “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” Nessie makes a cameo appearance in promotional photos for Ford’s new midsize pickup. Mythical and extinct — or are they? — critters including a Jackalope and dinosaurs are among the “Easter eggs” Ford has hidden in photos that show Ranger owners fishing, cycling and enjoying other activities that get them close to nature.

Not every image in the Ranger gallery has a shy beastie lurking in the background. Some just show the truck, while others include mysterious tracks and other hints of the marvels awaiting adventurous Ranger owners.

The idea was born in an early internal presentation on the Ranger’s features. A team member created a PowerPoint slide that illustrated pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking by showing a Ranger stopping on a wooded trail to avoid hitting Sasquatch.

“Ranger is a fun nameplate. We decided to do things a little differently from full-size trucks,” Ranger marketing manager Chad Callander said.

Hidden inside jokes like this are called Easter eggs. The idea was born by video game designers hiding creating gags real fans would appreciate. Fiat Chrysler designers joined the fun with Easter eggs that include scattering little silhouettes of the original ’41 Willys Army Jeep around new vehicles.

Ford snuck the first two Ranger Easter eggs into photos it posted online when the pickup debuted at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit last January. It’s not clear when the first-sharp-eyed Ranger fan spotted one. The idea caught on and Ford has added eight. Nobody’s saying if there are more to come.

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“People reacted very favorably,” Callander said. “It’s a good way to engage potential owners.” The Easter egg hunt also keeps people on the website longer, every marketer’s dream.

The Easter eggs were a closely held secret within Ford. The marketing team came up with the idea and executed it.

“We wanted to emphasize the fun side of the Ranger,” Callander said. “Like comedy, it’d be easy to overthink this.’

The 2019 Ranger will be on sale in early January. There’s no word on Nessie’s 2019 appearance schedule. Yet.

Contact Mark Phelan: mmphelan@freepress.com or 313-222-6731. Follow him on Twitter @mark_phelan

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