The Show's Over for Four-door Ford Car Advertising

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
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the show s over for four door ford car advertising

With Ford Motor Company dropping all but one car from its lineup to focus on utility vehicles and crossovers, there’s little reason to run ad campaigns for both. You don’t see Coca-Cola running spots for both Diet Coke and Coke BlāK, as the latter of the two beverages disappeared from store shelves roughly a decade ago. Companies don’t bother pushing products they don’t have, and pretty soon Ford won’t have cars.

Thus, the automaker has ended all nationwide marketing for the Fiesta, Focus, Taurus, and Fusion. Mark LaNeve, Ford’s vice president of U.S. marketing, sales and service, said the automaker intends to use the freed advertising dollars on the company’s current and forthcoming utility models — setting aside a portion for the Mustang. But the Fusion, which is slated to stick around for another two years, will have to go without.

“It allows us to focus our resources,” LaNeve said in an interview with Automotive News. “If we can take that money from sedans, where we have a middle-of-the-road position, to be the leading brand in SUVs, that’d be a really good position.”

While some complain that Ford’s abandonment of the traditional car is shortsighted, the plan is not without merit. Automakers stand witness to the sedan segment shrinking as crossover vehicles grow in popularity, and Ford just wants to get out ahead of the trend and capitalize on the wider profit margins of utility vehicles. However, the success of its strategy is highly dependent upon their continued growth.

Not being able to see into the future is a problem in any industry, and it remains the primary weakness in Ford’s plan. But the company should be credited for foregoing any half measures. It has committed itself to the blueprint it laid out in April. “We clearly have the right strategy,” LaNeve said.

From Automotive News:

The company’s August sales results suggest it’s the right move, executives say. The Ford brand’s car sales dropped 21 percent last month, while pickup and van sales rose 5.9 percent and utility-vehicle sales jumped 20 percent. Mustang sales jumped 35 percent as it continues to dominate the pony-car segment.

For the sake of comparison, Fusion sales were down 35 percent vs August of 2017. In fact, the sedan likely won’t surpass 200,000 deliveries in the United States by the end of 2018. Despite posting 300,170 U.S. sales just three years earlier, the Fusion has fallen on hard times. But it still manages to outsell both the Focus and Fiesta.

Ford says it won’t turn back and push the Fusion as the sedan rides out its last two years before retirement (to use a mild word). However, it is willing to help with incentives. “Obviously, we can’t let the dealers just sit on the inventory,” LaNeve explained. “We’ll keep them competitive on incentives, but we’re certainly not spending money there in a way where we’d be driving the market. We’re accepting the share we’ve got.”

You’ll have to accept it, as well. Though you might already find it difficult to recall the last time you saw any Ford prominently featured on TV that wasn’t a pickup, utility vehicle, or the Mustang.

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

Consumer advocate tracking industry trends, regulation, and the bitter-sweet nature of modern automotive tech. Research focused and gut driven.

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  • Namesakeone Namesakeone on Sep 06, 2018

    I wonder if Ford is doing what too many corporations are doing--putting stockholders above all else. The problem is that stockholders now want huge short-term payouts--and to hell with two years from now, because by then they will have sold their stock and went on to ruin some other corporation. And as too many know, short-term payouts usually come at the expense of the future--by such things as reducing or eliminating R&D for future products and getting rid of key people (who usually earn their high salaries). I sincerely hope I am wrong that this is the case here.

    • See 2 previous
    • Namesakeone Namesakeone on Sep 10, 2018

      I'm not saying that Ford's stockholders are any more short-sighted than Honda's, Toyota's or anyone else's. I am wondering if today's stockholders are more short-sighted than yesterday's; where before stock tended to be a long-term investment, that we would hope would double in value over the next 30 years, today the trend seems to be to make a huge amount of money today--and if the company folds tomorrow, make sure you've sold before then.

  • Garak Garak on Sep 07, 2018

    I really doubt advertising vehicles works that well nowadays, most people don't just go and impulse buy a new car.

  • Sobro My guess is it's just a plain scam. Very few pictures? CheckPrice too good to be true? CheckEnough "real car" info to convince the gullible it's a real car? CheckWeird story as to its provenance and location? Check
  • Analoggrotto So when the toyota 2ZZ engine is mounted in the Fwd Celica GT-S the YAMAHA casting on the head is prominent but it becomes hidden in the MR configuration on the Lotus cars. You have to pull out the passenger's side rear fender liner to see it.
  • JLGOLDEN It's really cute, and I'm sure the EV driving experience is a delight for those who give it a whirl. I hope this is enough to keep FIAT on the North American map! But, I fear dealers won't move enough units to justify investments in FIAT parts/service training for the long haul.
  • JLGOLDEN After most of these cars left their duty in rental fleets, they went on to lives with multiple changes of ownership and visits down the auction lane. Can Ford find the current owners and get these things repaired?
  • Abraham I rented a Kona EV - or tried to. I got in, turned it on and the battery had not been charged, displaying only about 25% state of charge and remaining range of 72 miles. It was driving ran outside and I was deciding if I wanted to keep it and find a charger or give up and get a regular vehicle. After about 3 minutes the displayed range dropped to 67 miles, then two minutes later dropped again to 64 miles, all without moving an inch with nothing turned on except the ignition. So the true remaining range was a complete crap shoot. I gave up and got a crappy Buick Encore with “unlimited” range instead.