Ford's New Marketing Guru: Reality Bites

fords new marketing guru reality bites

Speaking to The Detroit News (DTN) at the LA Auto Show, Jim Farley criticized his new employer's history of pouring money into vehicle launches and then leaving the new models to languish in the market without… advertising support. You thought I was going to say "mechanical updates" didn't you? No such luck. While Ford's Toyota-poached multi-million dollar marketing maven (exact salary undisclosed) places a high value on [s]hype[/s] advertising, he's doubly sure that "This is a time for us to be really realistic." In the spirit of this new realism, Farley said he wants to ignore/trample upon Ford's Volvo strategy and take Lincoln upmarket, "re-engage" Ford dealers (as opposed to long overdue euthanasia), meddle with product development ("That's where I can help Derrick and his team") and generally scare the **** out of Ford veterans ("What if we paid people if something went wrong with their car? It's an idea"). The DTN ends their "welcome to the club" feature by describing an encounter between Farley and an ex-Ford marketeer. "'There was no process. It was just chaos,' the former member of The Blue Oval Boyz told Farley. 'Now, I wish I'd stayed.'" Be careful what you wish for.

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  • Umterp85 Umterp85 on Nov 19, 2007

    Sanjeev...I do not think reliability will be enough to turn the Ford tide. I do think it will be enough to stabilize the business and keep current customers. I also share your impatience with Ford's inability to articulate a coherent brand strategy for either Ford, Lincoln, or Mercury. Hopefully Farley can get us there. Regarding Lincoln---it is obvious that the current thinking on the brand (and all of Ford for that matter) has a competitive context pointed at the Japanese and not the Europeans. If this is the strategy---which we can debate the merits of---Lincoln is not benchmarking against many vehicles that shout "passion"...Lexus isn't exactly BMW'esque.

  • Sajeev Mehta Sajeev Mehta on Nov 19, 2007
    Regarding Lincoln—it is obvious that the current thinking on the brand (and all of Ford for that matter) has a competitive context pointed at the Japanese and not the Europeans And that's the problem: Lincoln can't win by "out-boring" the Lexus and pretending to make a 3-series fighter. They need American branding and a bit of oneupmanship in luxury items to make a statement. Farley can't kill the Mazda/Volvo underpinnings of the MKZ/S, but at least show some cojones in their advertisements! 260+hp and optional all-wheel drive has to be worth something! Oh, and you really gotta stop calling me Sanjeev. :)

  • Umterp85 Umterp85 on Nov 19, 2007

    Damm---one of my best friends from grad school is named Sanjeev----my mistake as I type his name all of the time---visual brain cramp on my part--won't happen again my friend. BTW--don't disagree with you comments. To win---you have to stand for something differentiated. Merely "out-boring Lexus" as you put it won't win for Lincoln---it will only allow them to tread water for awhile....need to stand for more than quiet, safe, and reliable luxury---Lexus ain't giving this sapce up anytime soon. As to the distinct American branding notion---they really blew it when they went to the MK stuff---but they can't really go back at this point...can they ?

  • Sajeev Mehta Sajeev Mehta on Nov 20, 2007

    Yup, that Sanjeev name is way too popular. As to the distinct American branding notion—they really blew it when they went to the MK stuff—but they can’t really go back at this point…can they ? I see poor branding the same way I do a globalized chassis and badge-engineering: the sooner you make a car with 1) a catchy name 2) a chassis with proportions that clearly speak its origin 3) enough unique parts to justify a premium price ...the sooner you can start carving a profitable niche in this overcrowded and competitive market. Its only a matter of time before a Detroit makes something American enough to stand out from the crowd and demand a second look. The first one who does it has the competitive advantage.

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