On a recent airport layover I picked up a copy of Business Week with picture of a Model T on the cover. The cover story was about Ford’s efforts to revamp their company, their brand and their marketing department.
After reporting record quarterly losses and a 50% reduction of market share since 1995, the company identified its marketing operations as those that could revitalize the slumping auto giant. So it hired a chief marketer away from Toyota – a creative and innovative leader among US car brands – and set on a new course. Put simply, James Farley’s task is the epitome of the “easier said than done” mantra: Infuse a market culture into the Ford Motor Company.
What did he do?
- Restocked their creative agency, WPP, with fresh, accomplished brand gurus from around the globe
- Invited 30 of their most influential sales dealers for a candid series of focus group meetings on everything from branding and slogans, to advertising and sales incentives
- Reorganized his team with brand managers reporting directly to him – ensuring bureaucratic procedures don’t fracture the new brand messages
The result is a renewed faith among the iconic auto maker’s faithful. Rising gas prices and decreased consumer confidence can be a death blow to a company that introduced the SUV and whose sales are decidedly pick-up truck-heavy. But with a few fresh ideas and a new commitment to sound marketing tactics the future appears brighter than it has in years.