DETROIT (AdAge.com) -- Ford Motor Co. is readying its first global marketing launch of a mass-market car, the redone Focus, which will be unveiled next month at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
Rather than the dozens of different ad campaigns Ford used globally when the first Focus arrived in 1999 as a 2000 model, the automaker will use the same executions, whether for TV, online or events, Jim Farley, group VP-global marketing and communications, told Advertising Age. For the marketing equivalent of the automaker's "One Ford" program, he mustered his troops around the world this year, along with staff from its advertising agencies, which are part of WPP.
"We really have changed the approach on how we work together as global and regional marketing teams and public relations in the way we will go to market and take waste out of the system," he said. In the past, Ford's marketing leaders for North America, Europe and Asia did not collaborate on how many websites to use for a model launch, how to unify PR efforts, or how to best use auto shows in the pre-launch phase, Mr. Farley said.
Also on the team to unify the message -- and reporting directly to Mr. Farley -- is Elena Ford, the great-great granddaughter of company founder Henry Ford, named early this year to the new post of director-global sales, marketing and service operations.
Unified global ad campaigns in the car market aren't that unique. But most of those tried sporadically over the past 15 years were for niche brands such as Saab and Jaguar.
Mr. Farley's efforts mirror what Ford is doing on the product side. Dubbed "One Ford," the automaker shifted in April 2008 to create a single worldwide DNA for all Ford vehicles to simplify product development and purchasing. The first version of the Focus made in the U.S. differed greatly from its sibling in Europe. Now Ford will produce the same Focus-based cars in Europe and Asia, giving the company global economies of scale.
The 2011 Focus is expected to go on sale in fall 2010 around the world. The car's pre-launch activities will start the day it debuts to reporters at the Detroit auto show.
Although Mr. Farley declined to reveal those plans, one only need examine the extensive use of social media and experiential events he and his team used to generate buzz and awareness this year for the upcoming Ford Fiesta, due to arrive in U.S. dealerships in mid-2010. WPP's Team Detroit, Dearborn, Mich., handles Ford, Lincoln and Mercury strategy, creative and media in the U.S.
Ford tapped 100 young, American "agents" to dirve the Fiesta for six months starting in May and used social media to get the word out. The marketer also conducted ride-and-drive events in 300 cities over the period. Mr. Farley said as a result of the combined efforts, name awareness for the Fiesta is similar to what the Ford Edge and Flex have after two years of traditional advertising.
The second phase of Fiesta's pre-launch started this month. Ford is taking video applications online through January at fiestamovement.com for 20 new teams of agents.
Expanding test-drive programs
In 2009, Ford set aside 40% its ad budget for digital and experiential marketing, Mr. Farley said at a recent auto conference organized by consultant J.D. Power and Associates. TV is the medium still getting the biggest share, with 50%, and print gets 10%.
Ford ranked as the world's eighth-biggest ad spender in 2008, with global measured media spending of $2.45 billion, according to Ad Age's most recent Global Marketer report.
Ford is expanding its U.S. test-drive programs, such as the one for consumers at the Los Angeles auto show last month. "We have invested heavily into events in our auto shows," Mr. Farley said. "Our idea is to advocate customers who come to the shows and approach it like a hands-on museum."