It was only 5 years ago when the world economy had its throttle set full open. In just a span of a year the world economy came to a grinding halt and every market shivered with terror in the wake of a global financial meltdown that many feared may rival the financial collapse during the Great Depression. Banking, airline and auto industries were struck. There were no markets unaffected. In a way it was a good. It got everyone to rethink the necessity of spending money. It was bad because global economic contracted forcing massive layoffs, leading to the highest US unemployment rate since 1983. Out of the wake the US auto industry was gasping its last breath. Competition from foreign competitors and lucrative union bargaining packages had taken its toll on the auto industry.
The Big Three were operating in the red and collapse was imminent unless something drastic changed. The government step in and offered to help prop up the three US automakers. General Motors and Chrysler were forced to accept the offer while Ford decided to go it alone. Ford’s position may have been arrogant. It may have been fool hearted. It may have been a strategy used to wrestle away some of the power held by the unions. In either case, Ford was forced to restructure the company and made painful concessions to ensure its future. At the same time unions played a vital role by conceding to Ford’s insistence. Ford has rebounded unlike GM or Chrysler. Ford recorded a $2B dollar profit in the first quarter of the 2010. This is the
highest profits seen in 6 years. A greater emphasis on quality, a mixture of industry coincidences, as well as a savvy marketing strategy has proven to be recovery map for the auto titan. Ford has bucked the conventional and has hired a group of smooth media ad agency to produce a campaign blitz that has made American rethink American made. Ford is harnessing its new ad strategy that includes “…its four key pillars -- quality, green, safe and smart…” Ford is also developing pre-hype ad campaigns that use social networking sites. This investment in the alternative media, such as the internet, has increased its budget from $641M in 2008 to $750M in 2009. This has translated to increase market share of 13.8 percent in 2009 as opposed to 12.7 percent in 2008. The learning curve for managers at Ford has ramped up quickly.
They have learned from the previous year of the need to look beyond the conventional and into other realms to seek opportunities for the Ford brand. The company has embraced the power of the social networking as it re-launches the Fiesta in the United States. In addition, it has given 100 of the Euro styled Fiestas to Ford agents to test. These aents will report their findings and document their experiences for other to follow via You-Tube. The new media blitz has had an impact. It has made believers of viewers and has commitment from 11,000 people as future buyers.
This is the power of social networking and thinking outside the box. Not to outdone by Fiesta, the Mustang division has made inroads into the internet, as well. Mustang has its own FACEBOOK page. It claims more the 450,000 rabid fans. It touts the ever increasing power Mustang produces and having it more fuel efficient helps the bottom line too. Just because Ford is venturing into other media outlets, it has not abandoned television. In a twist to the glitz and glamour, Ford is utilizing recognizable faces such as Mike Rowe, host of Dirty Jobs. Using the voice and face of Mike Rowe into Ford advertising brings a workman quality to the brand.
The viewer sees a hard working honest man who uses hard working honest equipment. In this case the equipment is anything Ford. From a business perspective it was essential for Ford to formulate other strategies to build its market brand. From a cost analysis perspective, venturing into the social networking arena was brilliant. The company was able to invest a very small amount of money to with the hopes of reaching an unlimited amount of potential customers. This investment was not a gamble. Much should have been learned from political campaigned waged over the internet via YouTube. This was a lesson Ford learned and expanded as ventured into FACEBOOK. For an investment of hours, Ford was able to garner over a half of million fans.
Ford was able to make clear its mission to the public at large. Ford’s mission, “One Team…One Plan…One Goal…” This simple version outlines what the company hopes to achieve. One team involved in building a brand measured by community satisfaction. Ford has become a team that can be profitable, be innovative and deliver its goal. Ford’s Mission Statement is much different from previous years. The downsize in the economy, quality performance and stiff foreign competition forced the company to look inward to cut waste and to look outward to become more innovative.
The company has done both and is standing on much firmer ground. It has become leaner, and it has become more competitive. Through its media blitz, Ford has transformed its image. The company is making strides to once again take a leadership role in the industry. It is bringing new technology to the table. It is producing green vehicles that the consumer seeks. The road to self enlightenment has been a long road, but Ford is on its way. The company needs to ensure that it learns from its past missteps. Ford Motor Company made a huge mistake in its infancy. The company produced vehicles in any color the consumer wanted as long as that color was black. The company can not afford to rest on past gains. The competition is steep and many are out there vying for their position. By continuing to seek input from the customer, Ford will ensure a financially sound future.
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