Tag Archives: Ford

Fab Ford Fiesta Movement

We’ve heard a lot about the Ford Fiesta Movement campaign. You know the one: Ford gives 100 savvy social media types a Fiesta for free for six months so they can share their experiences online. Sure, it’s a hip move given all the hype around social media. But will the rubber hit the road? Will it translate into sales?

Well, the Fiesta hasn’t even launched yet and won’t until the summer of 2010, so it’s still a bit early to say whether this campaign is a slam dunk. But, oh boy, it’s no air ball!

Consider this: content generated by this class of 100 has resulted in more than 4.3 million video views on YouTube, more than 540,000 photo views on Flickr and more than 3 million Twitter impressions. According to Jim Farley, Ford’s group vice president of global marketing, 60 percent of the public is aware of the brand. I came across this data in a Detroit Free Press piece on the Fiesta campaign.

Wow. Talk about building brand presence… and, again, doing it so far ahead of the vehicle’s launch.

Double wow: creating this quality brand presence came at a fraction of the estimated $50 million plus investment that would have been required if Ford had chosen to run a traditional media campaign.

I am not one who believes it’s an either/or choice between traditional and new media marketing, but one just can’t ignore the kind of results Ford is seeing from its Fiesta Movement campaign. As we have seen from this campaign and a growing body of examples, social media offers tremendous potential to build brand presence and do so much more economically.

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New Ford Campaign Has Right People Talking

fordAs reported by The Associated Press, Ford plans to go out next week with a new ad campaign to rev up talk about its brand.

I really like Ford’s go-get-’em approach. “We have momentum. Let’s build on it, now!” That’s what I’m hearing.

One can’t help contrast Ford to GM here.

Look at Ford. They’re going out with ads spotlighting various features of their vehicles – capless refueling, the Sync entertainment system, built-in refrigerators (that’s a new one for me, and I’ll take one of those!) and ambient lighting. They’re talking about what makes their vehicles special.

GM, on the other hand, well, their big talk right now is all about a 60-day money back guarantee. They’re not talking about the wonders of GM vehicles.

As Laura Ries rightly points out, a money-back guarantee doesn’t exactly send the intended message. See her post GM & the Implication of the Opposite for more on this.

Look Who’s Talking
Another big… wait… huge… no, wait… gargantuan difference between Ford and GM is who’s doing the talking.

For GM, it’s their chairman, Ed Whitacre Jr. Umm, Ed who?

For Ford, it’s someone just like one of us. Word is that Ford’s new spots feature actual owners/drivers of the brand’s vehicles. Even better, the comments are completely unscripted. According to The Ford Story blog, the people featured didn’t even know Ford had anything to do with the filming or that they might be used in commercials.

You can see the Ford commercials for yourself if you’d like.

I’ve got to hand it to Ford and their social media whiz kid Scott Monty. They really get it. I mean, who would you be more influenced by: big auto executive Ed What’s-his-name or a real guy or gal, someone who seems just like you and people you know?

This is the new marketing world we’re living in. Ford appears to be in the right gear. GM seems to have stalled somewhere along the road. Those who closely follow GM’s marketing, please correct me if I’m wrong.

I’m not sure if Ford has truly arrived. The competition remains intense. The challenges have not faded away. Ford is still in a fight. But we’re seeing more and more positive signals indicating Ford is turning the corner, such as the 25 percent of Ford Flex crossover sales coming from people trading in a foreign brand.

Ford has a long way to go yet. But… and I think it’s a big but, they’ve got the right people talking.

What do you think? Do you see things as I do, or have you some other thoughts? Please weigh in. Would love to hear from you. Thanks for stopping by.

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Why Ford. Why Now. Brand Champ or Chump?

Ford is running some new ads with the following tag line: “Why Ford. Why now.”

See anything missing? Yep, no question marks.

Deliberately omitted? Definitely.

Why? Well, I think it’s because Ford’s not just asking rhetorical questions. They’re actually asserting that there’s simply no question about it – consumers should be thinking about buying a Ford now. After all, they say, Ford vehicles are among the most fuel-efficient out there. Why wouldn’t we consider Ford? Hmm… I like the show of confidence.

Still, I would have liked to see a bit more substance from Ford here. The auto giant has a great story behind its resurging brand. Could Ford not have presented its case in a more compelling fashion? If you’re going to jab with a why, you really should have a knock out answer with a set of benefits to rhyme off.

Now, that said, I still like the questions without the question marks.

A question is powerful by its very nature.  Like a jolt of electricity, like a jumper cable to the brain, a question demands an answer. When we hear a question, we’re instinctively drawn in. We become involved. We become engaged. That’s good for a brand when it’s trying to build consideration.

The problem with statements is we’re so adept at tuning them out. We hear what’s said, but we’re quick to move on. Questions don’t invite us to move on quite so readily. They stimulate us. They provoke us to think.

So, sure… I would have liked to see a more compelling case from Ford and I don’t believe the theme line here is killer and mind-blowing; however, the approach has potential to provoke thought, to get Ford back on the why and/or why not lists of buyers… and that’s a good thing.

I lean toward champ.

What do you think? Is this approach from Ford:

  1. A brand champ?
  2. A brand chump?
  3. Or somewhere in between?

Thank you for stopping by the On Brands blog.

Oh, just so you know, I may be delayed in posting/approving comments. By the time anyone has read this, I’ll be pitching a tent somewhere in Northern Michigan.

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Brand Neglect Drives Failure

I just read an outstanding piece by Olivier Blanchard, principal at BrandBuilder Marketing, on the mistreatment of brands by lousy CEOs.

See Blanchard’s blog post: Killing America’s brands, one lousy CEO at a time (It’s a bit lengthy, but worth the read).

In this piece, he rants against ineffective leadership at Chrysler and GM, whose CEOs, he says, have focused to their detriment on aggressive cost-cutting, efficiency and short-term results in favor of rebuilding the brands that once made them successful. As a result, the downfall of these auto giants have accelerated.

I think Blanchard’s point is a good one. Too often, business leadership focuses more on short-term profitability (making the numbers). By doing so, they may be running the business, but they’re not managing the brand.

A brand management mindset is different. Brand management rises above profit and loss and focuses instead on value. And value wins customers, long-term revenues and opportunities for growth. Managing costs and production efficiencies may create value in the short-term, but you can only squeeze so much juice out of a lemon.

As Blanchard says:

“Repeat after me. No major brand ever rose to a position of market dominance by focusing on cutting costs.”

Perhaps it’s no coincidence then that Ford appears to have emerged as the best positioned among Detroit’s Big Three.

fordWe see a lot of positive chatter about Ford these days.

One reason, no doubt, is that Ford is the one American auto-making giant that hasn’t asked for any loan money from the federal government. By doing so, the company seems to have claimed the position as the soundest, most dependable and most likely-to-stick-around American automaker.

That’s not to say they won’t ask for support. And by no means is Ford out of the woods. They still face an uphill climb. Their situation is still precarious.

But Ford seems to have gotten it right on many other fronts. And a large part of this seems to come down to the right mindset – a brand management mindset.

You can see it in the words of Ford CEO Alan Mulally himself. When asked about Ford’s healthier financial position vis-à-vis its Detroit rivals, he mostly talked about the value of the Ford brand. And he told the story about Ford’s focus and work over the past few years on ensuring that every new vehicle in the future was best in class in quality, fuel efficiency, safety and value.

And it seems as if the brand is performing. Ford is a recognized leader in safety and in recent reviews has received high praise for reliability and quality, including from the impartial magazine Consumer Reports. In fact, Ford’s reliability and quality is now said to be on par with Toyota and Honda.

Ford has also made meaningful progress on fuel efficiency, with a greater number of hybrid models this year and plans to replace almost half of its models in today’s showrooms with environmentally-friendly fuel efficient hybrids by this time next year. Ford already boasts the most fuel efficient SUV on the market.

Ford has had its share of cost-cutting and efficiency efforts, don’t get me wrong. But compared to its Detroit rivals, Ford seems to have put a lot more emphasis and substance behind its promise of being there with the quality vehicles people want.

Delivering on your promise is the ultimate test of  your brand. That’s where respect comes from. It’s where brand fans come from. It’s where long-term revenue comes from.

We’ll have to wait and see what happens with all three major American auto companies, but Ford’s brand management mindset may be giving it the edge.

As Blanchard says, one must drive your business forward with a focus on building the brand, on creating and pleasing customers. One must manage the brand, not just the profit and loss columns.

I’m certainly no expert on the American auto industry, so help me out.

Do you think Ford has set itself apart with a better focus on its brand, or are other factors at play?

Why does Ford seem better positioned at this moment to succeed than its Detroit rivals? Or is it?

Do you think Blanchard is right about CEOs failing because of brand neglect?