Ford Death Watch 31: David Mamet's Hair Splitting TV Ads Miss Their Mark

by Neunelf
ford death watch 31 david mamets hair splitting tv ads miss their mark

In 1997, Kiwi film director Lee Tamahori brought playwright David Mamet’s words to the silver screen in an Alec Baldwin/Anthony Hopkins vehicle called The Edge. Ten years later and David Mamet lensed an ad campaign for a crossover utility vehicle by the same name. Mamet’s trademark dialogue takes center stage, pitting the Blue Oval’s most important cute-ute against the upscale competition from Germany (BMW X5) for speed and Japan (Lexus RX350) for quietness. Does Mamet’s champion edge out its pricier rivals? Duh.

As the first ad’s fast-talking protagonists suggest, the Ford Edge is .2 seconds faster to 60mph than a BMW X5. And, as the same wisecracking thirty-somethings conclude in the second ad, internal Ford testing proved that the Edge’s interior is tighter lipped than the Lexus RX350.

True story? Not quite. In an echo of the Ford Fusion ads, where Car and Driver “helped” FoMoCo compare an all wheel-drive Fusion against a front wheel-drive Camry and Accord, The Glass House Gang has stacked the deck in their favor.

Mamet’s [not gay] guys could make their claim because the Ford vs. BMW drag race pitted the Edge SEL AWD– the optional four wheel-drive version– against BMW’s entry level all-wheel-drive 3.0si X5. In fact, the Edge AWD’s .2 second margin of victory is actually something of a coup for Germany; the least powerful X5 has 900 lbs. more SUV to lug and 25 ft.-lbs. less grunt with which to do it.

As for quietness, listen closely. The ad’s characters say that the Edge is more silent than the Lexus in “a quiet test.” That’s “a” as in one test. While the Ford product has a lower decibel count at highway cruising speeds, the same can not be said about its NVH (Noise, Vibration and Harshness) during acceleration or stop starting around town.

To paraphrase the original P.T. cruiser, you can fool some of the people all of the time but not Art Spinella. The president of CNW Marketing Research argues that the ads will be extremely effective at getting consumers’ attention, but not generating sales. “Nobody goes out and buys a Ford thinking they’re getting a BMW”. Nor should they; which raises another problem.

Anybody remember Lincoln? Hello? Lincoln is supposed to be Dearborn’s Bimmer beater, not the blue-collared Blue Oval. Lincoln’s website lists both the Lexus RX and BMW X5 as the MKX’ direct competitors. Unfortunately, Lincoln’s badge engineered Edge adds extra luxury, a.k.a. weight. Bottom line: the X5 3.0is hits sixty from rest 0.3 seconds faster than the Lincoln.

According to Barry Engle, GM of Ford Division marketing, they compared the Edge to the X5 because buyers typically trade in bigger buck whips for Ford’s CUV. That’s an encouraging sign for Ford, but disheartening for FoMoCo. Mamet’s marketing mavens seem the have forgotten basic economics. When the corporate mothership is struggling to keep its head above water, the higher profit, lower volume brand is a more appropriate flotation device.

Truth be told, FoMoCo needs to start banking bucks, fast. Yesterday’s first quarter results indicate that Mulally’s minions are getting closer to meeting their metrics, but they’re so far not out of the woods that they’re still deep in them.

Through March ‘07, the Blue Oval’s bean counters pocketed some $400m in NorAm cost savings– and still posted losses of $614m. Optimistic analysts will cite Ford’s reductions in staff, improved revenues and the successful jettison of PAG pieces (namely Aston Martin) and ACH (Automotive Components Holdings).

Realists will notice North American operations scuttled $172m more than last year and that revenues are already down $1.6b (from $19.8b to $18.2b). And there’s still a multitude of moribund metal littering over 4000 U.S. Ford dealer lots.

The Fusion/Milan/MKZ triplets and cute-ute crossover twins continue to be hot items, but the rest of the metal is actually repelling costumers. Ford can now lay claim to having the oldest fleet in the biz. The Powers at J.D. report that only four percent of Ford owners traded in their old whips for something new from Dearborn. Translation: Ford is still losing almost half of their already shrunken client base. The world’s new number one automaker– and many others– are stealing Ford’s customers.

Industry analysts predict Ford’s April’s sales to sink again from last year. They expect the Big 2.5 to be hit hardest. Continued construction slowdowns are eroding truck sales quicker than California’s sedimentary cliffs.

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  • Umterp85 Umterp85 on Apr 29, 2007

    To boredlawstudent: "That’s of course assuming the Lincoln is as good a car as the Lexus. I’ll leave it up to the marketplace to ultimately decide" There is only one marketplace that counts when deciding if the Lincoln mkX is better than Lexus RX-----me. I could care less what others think is better---mine is the only opinion that counts as I am making the purchase decision.

  • Vento97 Vento97 on Apr 30, 2007
    BTW—-I would not even think of being a Lexus Lemming—-RX 350 is booooorrrrinnnnnggg I would not think of being an SUV Lemming. With gas prices at their current levels, SUVs are gradually becoming a gas-guzzling caricature - a cruel joke, if you will. Every time I see a driver in one of these vehicles, I just look at them, shake my head, and laugh my ass off. And don't get me started on the me-too hybrid drivers - especially the ones who traded their gas-guzzling behemoth for a hybrid - and have the nerve to claim they did it for the "sake of the environment". I guess "image" didn't have anything to do with it, either...(hypocrites). With the exception of a 1978 Datsun 280z (I owned years ago) - every car that I've owned and currently owned have 4-cylinder engines - so at least I've been consistent...

  • MaintenanceCosts We hear endlessly from the usual suspects about the scenarios where EVs don't work as well as gas cars. We never hear the opposite side of the coin. From an EV owner (since 2019) who has a second EV reserved, here are a few points the "I road trip 1000 miles every day" crowd won't tell you about:[list][*]When you have a convenient charging situation, EV fueling is more convenient than a gas car. There is no stopping at gas stations and you start every day with a full tank.[/*][*]Where there are no-idling rules (school pickup/dropoff, lines for ferries or services, city loading, whatever else) you can keep warm or cool to your heart's content in your EV.[/*][*]In the cold, EVs will give you heat from the second you turn them on.[/*][*]EVs don't care one bit if you use them for tons of very short trips. Their mechanicals don't need to boil off condensation. (Just tonight, I used my EV to drive six blocks, because it was 31 degrees and raining, and walking would have been unpleasant.)[/*][*]EVs don't stink and don't make you breathe carcinogens on cold start.[/*][*]EV maintenance is much less frequent and much cheaper, eliminating almost all items having to do with engine, transmission, or brakes in a gas car. In most EVs the maintenance schedule consists of battery coolant changes and tire maintenance.[/*][*]You can accelerate fast in EVs without noisily attracting the attention of the cops and every passerby on the street.[/*][/list]
  • MaintenanceCosts Still can't get a RAV4 Prime for love or money. Availability of normal hybrid RAV4s and Highlanders is only slightly better. At least around here I think Toyota could sell twice the number of vehicles that they are actually bringing in at the moment.
  • Tree Trunk Been in the market for a new Highlander Hybrid, it is sold out with order time of 6 months plus. Probably would have bit the bullet if it was not for the dealers the refuse to take an order but instead want to sell from allotment whether it fits or not and at thousands over MRSP.
  • AKHusky The expense argument is nonsense. My mach e was $42k after tax credit. Basically the same as similarly equipped edge. And it completely ignores that the best selling vehicles are Rams, F150s, and Silverados, all more expensive that a bolt, MAch e or ID4. As an owner, I'd say they are still in second car territory for most places in the country.
  • Johnster I live in a red state and I see quite a few EVs being purchased by conservative, upper-class Republicans (many of them Trump-supporters). I suspect that it is a way for them to flaunt their wealth and that, over time, the preference for EVs will trickle down to less well-off Republicans.