Posts Tagged ‘cars’

Ford Motor Company continues to separate itself from the other domestic automakers with a double win at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. On Monday, January 11, Ford was selected as the winner of both the prestigious Car of the Year (Ford Fusion Hybrid)) and Truck of the Year (Transit Connect van) awards. This marks the first time in 17 years, and only the third time in history, that a single brand has won both awards in the same year. The Ford Fusion Hybrid was also selected as Motor Trend Magazine’s Car of the Year this past November.

In recent months, Ford has gained consumer notice for not only its innovative design, but has seen unprecedented market share growth, increasing domestic share-of-market 14 out of the last 15 months. Ford’s domestic share stands at 17.3% and category-leader GM’s share, falling to 19.8%, is clearly within Ford’s sights.

The fact that Ford was the only domestic automaker to not solicit government bailout funding as well as the single domestic auto company to avoid bankruptcy has created “atta boy!” status with consumers and the American public at large. Consumers seem to appreciate the fact that the company can continue to be viable without the aid of taxpayer money.

Ford’s ONE Ford plan posits that cars built for the global market rather than different versions and sub brands for specific markets are the process needed in today’s marketplace. This bodes well as China is now seen as the largest potential market for US-made cars.

Like Driving an iPhone

Critically, Ford seem to understand more than most other vehicle manufacturers that the user experience is crucial to branding and sales. Ford’s SYNC in-car communications system melds music, entertainment, information and communications into one unit. Much like the iPod became a category leader because of the user experience and thousands of applications created by users, Jim Farley, Group VP of Marketing at Ford says “The bottom line is, when you enter your car, it should be as cool as your iPhone. My point of view is that we create an open platform like iPhone and let the applications flow based on Sync. This seems odd, since you would think we want dollars, but we want the Sync community to grow and these applications are more creative than we can create.” Ford’s SYNC is an open platform and Fraley hopes that developers will create unique apps for the system, much like the process that fueled the iPhone app phenomena.

Marketing Revamp Rivals Company Re-org

Farley also stated in a live-chat from the Detroit show that Ford is placing 25% of it’s traditional media budget in interactive and that social media will play a critical role.

We need to have enough creative horsepower to come up with unique ideas that viewers will find fun,” he said. “The advantages are credibility and efficiency.”

Ford CEO Allen Mulally was an early adapter to Twitter, and Ford seems to “get” social media better than its rivals. US efforts will be, er, focused on the launch of the Ford Focus, the first global platform car, and the Ford Fiesta. Fiesta’s effort will be the second iteration of “Fiesta Movement,” a successful effort from last year where a group of “influencers” were given Ford Fiestas to drive and then they blogged about it. This year’s version will be more “car” centric than the previous one.

The Ford Focus campaign will see the bulk of activity between April and October with a lot of web and social media programs.

Ford does some innovative things such as a dedicated time when CEO Allen Mulally can interact with consumers via social media. And, while the other makers were using traditional media and PR at the Detroit show, Ford was all over social media (the Farley quotes used above came from that effort). Ford’s Director of Social Media Scott Monty has one of the more perceptive Fortune 500 company social media strategies and he blogs about it.

What do you think of Ford’s strategy? Would you consider a Ford Fusion Hybrid when pruchasing or leasing your next car?


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