Ford Death Watch 31: David Mamet's 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.
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 on Apr 30, 2007BTW—-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...
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