Elena Ford Used to Head Mercury

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
elena ford used to head mercury

There, I’ve said it. In their rush to report that Elena Ford is the Blue Oval Boyz newly appointed director of global sales, marketing and service operations; the MSM seems to have forgotten Ms. Ford’s Mercurial past. In fact, the fruit of Charlotte Ford and Greek shipping magnate Stavros Niarchos was appointed the head of Ford’s Voldemort (Mercury) in June 2004. Newsweek: “Elena is planning to roll out new, crisply designed models in 2004 to go after sophisticated young professionals who drive Volkswagens. Launching a youth movement won’t be easy and she admits the elderly customers ‘don’t fit perfectly into our strategy,’ but argues Mercury needs them to help fund the brand’s overhaul.” At the time, some commentators said that Ford was the only reason Ford kept plowing money into Mercury. Churlish perhaps, but how would you like to be the one telling the Ford family that you were pulling the rug from under Elena’s feet? So how does today’s press release spin this less-than-glorious chapter in Ms. Ford’s corporate career? Easy. They don’t.

“Elena Ford joined the company in 1995 as the truck advertising specialist for Ford Division,” FoMoCo PR reveals. “She has held marketing leadership positions representing all regions and brands around the world. Prior to her current assignment at Ford Credit, she has served as: director of North America product marketing, planning and strategy; director of North America product marketing; director of Ford Division product marketing; and director of Business Strategy for International Automotive Operations.”

OK, let’s assume history is bunk and Ford family nepotism didn’t lead to Bill Ford’s disastrous tenure at the top. What’s this new sub-Farley position all about, Alfie?

“In a telephone interview today, Elena Ford said her previous marketing and international assignments prepared her for a job channeling all of Ford’s product advertising and marketing messages worldwide into a single voice,” Automotive News [sub] reports.

“The challenge will be to concentrate my efforts on three or four main tasks rather than spreading them over 10,” she said. “For one, I’ll have one global creative director for each product launch rather than a creative director in each country, starting with the new Focus.”

Worrying: the use of the word “I.” Equally worrying: is Ms. Ford seriously suggesting that Ford will now have one transnational product director for each new product?

Even if we assume that Ford will offer the exact same model globally, is that really such a good idea? How can a single marketing director know the automotive gestalt in, say, Russia and Brazil? Even thinking purely of logistics, without a corporate jet, how can he or she coordinate simultaneous launches on a planetary basis?

OK, Elena’s probably got her own jet (liveried to match her yacht), which she could lend the product guru. But the more I think about this “one Ford” concept, the more I think it will be the death of Ford. In fact, Ford Death Watch under construction…

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  • DrivingEnthusiast.net DrivingEnthusiast.net on Jan 29, 2009

    Unbelievable. After little Billy Ford thought he could run a company and all but blew it up, you'd think they would have learned. But reality is that the Ford family voting block drove this decision. Family members have frequently been put in places they didn't have the experience for. Mulally is in a very difficult position here and probably had to accept the reality of this. -jeff DrivingEnthusiast.net

  • Darth Vader Darth Vader on Sep 05, 2009

    The article addressed Jan. 28th, 2009 by Mr. Schwartz premised he doesn’t have enough happening in his own family life to be so succumbed in the Rippolone and Ford families. Wow, as YOU put it…at least they are working hard for a living and a healthy place in society whereas you must have lots of free time to dig up OLD gossip. Take an inventory of your own life and when it is perfect, remember: “People may often find you unreasonable, illogical, and self centered”, “We will forgive you anyway”. Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough: “Give the world the best you’ve got anyway”. You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God: “It was never between you and them anyway”. May the Schwartz be with you… Darth Vader

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