By on July 19, 2010

TTAC Commentator celebrity208 writes:

Can we get a critique of the Ford Fiesta ad blitz that was going on during the American Idol finale?  (are they effective?  Are they unique?  Etc.) One of those commercials showed the SYNC system in the Fiesta.

TTAC has discussed Ford’s SYNC and GM’s tie up with Google.  A follow up question is: Might the domestics be positioning themselves to be in the lead regarding vehicle telematics?  BMW has iDrive and Audi has something similar but do any of them have cooperation with leaders in the tech industry like Microsoft, Google, and (yet still single) Apple?  This is assuming that these types of pair-ups produce lasting developments that can net both companies increased sales and or competitive advantage?

Sajeev Answers:

Remember that anything posted on an automotive message board (that’s even remotely car related) is fair game on Piston Slap. With that in mind, what a cool query!

Regarding Fiesta:  marketing for barely available vehicles is somewhat impossible to judge. I know there’s a measurement for “buzz” on the Internet, and the Fiesta’s social media strategy is pretty impressive.  It’ll be the case study for social media’s impact on marketing.  But this question is about Ford’s TV time on American Idol. Sure, this show is the right place for a car in this price point.  Effective? Maybe.

Unique?  The Fiesta’s promotional style is a skim milk, indie rock version of Scion’s once successful heavy metal marketing strategy.  And like Scion’s current woes, the Fiesta has an uphill battle when the next Euro-Focus hits our shores.  Either of the new Fords shall feel the “Mercury” pinch: too many players in the same price point, fighting each other’s incentives/rebates. In the same showroom, most importantly.  But Jack Baruth’s time with the Ford Aspire is the proper precedent: even if it doesn’t blow like the Aspire, the Fiesta won’t make it past a few years of Foci mass consumption by retail and fleet buyers alike.

Regarding telematics:  Short term exclusivity contracts aside, I doubt Detroit has the lock on it, just look at BMW and Google hopping in bed together. If there’s money to be made, tech providers will spread their goodness across all platforms.  There’s no (sustainable or otherwise) competitive advantage if your tech partner isn’t 100% owned by…you.  Just look at Delphi selling it’s Magnaride goodness to the likes of Ferrari!

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10 Comments on “Piston Slap: Idolizing the Buzz, Forgetting Competitive Advantage...”


  • avatar
    John Horner

    As long as the Fiesta and the Focus keep enough price point separation between them, I don’t see one being a problem for the other. Ford is very successful selling both products side by side in many markets.

  • avatar
    srogers

    I don’t see it breaking Ford’s heart if the Focus manages to cannibalize Fiesta sales. They’ll enjoy the extra profit, and continue to sell enough Fiestas in the rest of the world to justify its existence. Any good PR for the Fiesta will be rubbing off on the Focus.

  • avatar
    th009

    @celebrity208,

    The new Audi A8 has Google Earth integration, including fuzzy local search, integrated with its MMI system.

  • avatar
    faygo

    I don’t see the issue here. The only potential pricing overlap is going to be when the dealers have to get rid of leftover current Focus inventory and they have buyers shopping on price alone. supply of Fiestas is likely to continue to be tight for a good while, so I think that drawdown of Focus inventory will be managed fine. The new Focus is muuuuuuuch nicer than the outgoing car, so even when there are old & new on the lot, the new car will justify it’s additional cost.

    when the new Focus launches, there will be some small overlap between a fully loaded Fiesta and the base Focus, but that exists everywhere, for every manufacturer.

    the real question is whether the various media campaigns for Fiesta have done enough to push it up away from the “it’s a really cheap car” image that the entry level model would normally attract and into the “I want to pay for one of those – they’re cool” strata. a Fiesta is never going to compete on price with POS Aveos or a base model Kias or Hyundais.

  • avatar
    NulloModo

    While Ford no longer has exclusivity with the Microsoft tech behind Sync, all of the additional features that Ford developed on top of that platform are unique to Ford. You can get the same underpinnings to Sync with Kia’s Uvo system, but Sync does twice as much.

    I would say telematics and infotainment are one area where the domestics are definitely in the lead. You don’t see similar features on import vehicles for the most part until you get into high dollar luxury machines, and even then those systems don’t work as intuitively – just look at iDrive, which has only recently become good enough to be classified as usable by most people.

  • avatar
    James2

    I just hope Ford doesn’t abandon all marketing efforts for the Fiesta once the new Focus launches. In the past (pre-Farley), sometimes I don’t think they cared if the public knew that a certain model (Five Hundred, Freestyle, Taurus X) even existed.

  • avatar
    mjz

    Local Ford dealer has three SES hatchbacks, moderately equipped for ALMOST $20,000!!! No heated leather, power seats(not offered), no sunroof. With the leather and sunroof, were talking well over $21,000!!! Wow that’s alot.

  • avatar
    Runfromcheney

    Apple isn’t single; it hopped in bed with Jaguar a couple years ago.

  • avatar
    Ion

    BMW just teamed up with Apple for iPod out, so iDrives days could be numbered.
    http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-13746_7-20009928-48.html

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