More agencies of the Ford family

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In addition to J. Walter Thompson Co., Young & Rubicam and Ogilvy & Mather, several other agencies contribute to Ford Motor Co.'s vast marketing profile, while one Ford marque, Aston Martin, handles its advertising in-house.

Doner: Putting the 'Zoom' in Mazda

In 1997, shortly after Ford acquired Mazda, W.B. Doner & Co. was invited to pitch the business. Mazda came into the U.S. market from Japan in the 1970s with a revolutionary rotary engine system-the much-publicized Wankel-that delivered peppiness, compactness and quiet performance.

The only thing it lacked was fuel efficiency, a limitation that stalled the engine in 1973, when Mazda ran directly into the first oil embargo. Mazda retreated to a conventional power system and, over the next 25 years, built a reputation for itself as a fun-to-drive sports car.

Though based in Southfield, Mich., Doner had handled only one auto account-Studebaker-and that for only a brief time in the mid-'60s. But because of relationships it built up with Ford, including work for several dealer associations, it was asked to pitch the account, says Tim Blett, president of Doner's Automotive Division.

Doner won the account from Foote, Cone & Belding in January 1998 with a pitch based on the now familiar "Zoom, Zoom" campaign.

The "Zoom, Zoom" campaign "originated in the new-business pitch," Mr. Blett says, "and was conceived because it drew on Mazda's heritage and to what the company stood for-which was building fun-to-drive cars. 'Zoom, Zoom' is a fun statement. It's about the emotion of the Mazda experience and came out of the product philosophy and the philosophy of the company.

The 'Zoom' idea is so deeply ingrained in the Mazda identity by now, it will figure prominently when Mazda introduces its rotary-engine RX-8 later this spring.

Euro RSCG: Stressing Volvo's brand values

Euro RSCG MVBMS Partners, New York, and its antecedent agencies have handled Volvo for 12 years and Ford for nearly four. It was among the "assets" that Ford acquired when it purchased the Swedish automaker in 1999.

"When Ford bought Volvo," says agency Chairman-CEO Ron Berger, "one thing that was very important was Ford's appreciation and respect for all that Volvo stood for and the values that have been created over the last 30 years here in the U.S.

When Volvo incorporated in 1926, the founders made safety the company mission and held to it with a consistency that evolved into a fundamental identity. It brought that reputation to the U.S. market in 1955 and extended it to durability. That became the primary theme of Volvo advertising when, after working with three small agencies, the account went to Carl Ally Inc. in 1961, then to Scali, McCabe, Sloves in 1967. Euro RSCG took over in 1991 and put safety back into the core of Volvo's positioning, but with a fresh emphasis on hip styling as the brand's demographic coverage was broadened.

Among the benefits the agency has seen as a result of Ford's purchase of Volvo was Ford's creation of the Premier Auto Group, which manages the company's luxury brands-Jaguar, Aston Martin, Land Rover, Lincoln and Volvo. The group, headed by Chairman-CEO Mark Fields, has proved a perceptive audience for Euro RSCG's thinking, Mr. Berger says, and the group has been a "tremendous opportunity" for Ford to see how special Volvo can be.

"One of the first initiatives they looked at," he noted, "was the discrepancy they felt existed between the advertising and communication that Volvo was getting in Europe compared to that in North America, which they though was terrific. In Europe they had individual agencies in each of the different countries, and they felt there was an inconsistency in terms of its quality, look and feel.

So in 2000, Euro RSCG suggested opening a pan-European office in Amsterdam, a notion in tune with what Euro RSCG President John Berg calls "a philosophical bent in the case of Ford and PAG toward consolidation and less rather than more agency resources."

Closer to home, Euro RSCG claims its launch of the S60 in 2001 was the first all-digital car introduction. Engineered through special arrangement with AOL, it generated millions of dollars in extra PR because of its unusual nature. It was not a stunt, though, but an unexpected answer to particular circumstances.

"It was a fraction of what the traditional budget would have been to launch a new car," Mr. Berger recalls. "If you look at the PR that was derived from it and the subsequent research measurements, the brand impact was so powerful that it compensated tremendously for not having the more traditional media."

Zubi Advertising: Understanding Hispanic consumer needs

Zubi Advertising got its first automotive account when it won the Ford business in two waves in 1996 and 1997. Today this includes all Hispanic creative for the Ford Division and Ford corporate in the U.S., as well as Hispanic media buying business for Ford, Lincoln-Mercury, Volvo, Mazda, Land Rover and Jaguar.

"We got [the business] for a couple of reasons, I think," says Joe Zubizarreta, Zubi's chief operating officer. "We approached the business from a regional strategy in terms of understanding the different Hispanic consumer needs around the country. And we tied that together with some pretty good creative that caught their eye. I would say it was a mix of our media capacity and creative strategy."

Zubi was founded in 1976 by Mr. Zubizarreta's mother, Tere Zubizarreta, who is president-CEO. His sister, Michelle, also serves as Zubi's chief administrative officer, making the company a family affair.

Headquartered in Coral Gables, Fla., Zubi has branches in Dallas, Los Angeles and Dearborn, Mich., where the Ford business is served. Mr. Zubizarreta says the agency currently has $140 million in billings. "We look for the key consumer insights for Hispanics in terms of their needs for each of the individual nameplates," Mr. Zubizarreta says. "Sometimes those insights mirror the needs of non-Hispanics, but most of the time we see quite a difference.

"The Ford Focus is [popular with] a first-new-car buyer, who's probably a little older than the standard target. The F-150 pickup truck is considered basically the family car in many areas of the U.S. by Hispanics. So we shift the emphasis more toward safety, space and more of the creature comforts and away from the sheer toughness of the vehicle that's promoted so heavily in the English-speaking market.

"The F-150 is the best-selling Ford vehicle we have because it is not only for personal use but also a commercial tool used by small-business owners. It is central to the Hispanic market, which has a tremendous number of small-business people who work independently as contractors, builders and in other trades. The F-150 works for them both personally and professionally. This is just one example of where mainstream and Hispanic strategies are different, and we develop our creative from those insights from scratch."

Bravo Group: The appeal of Salma Hayek

The Bravo Group evolved as a unit of Young & Rubicam, which in 1980 was feeling the growing pull of the U.S. Hispanic market on its blue-clip clients.

Although parent Y&R has handled the Lincoln-Mercury account since 1979, Bravo has built its own relationships with the division, beginning with several dealer groups in the mid-'90s. That has grown to where today Bravo handles Lincoln-Mercury regional dealership advertising in Southern California, the New York tri-state area, South Texas and South Florida.

But it wasn't until 2001 that Lincoln-Mercury consolidated its Hispanic advertising at Bravo. More recently, Mazda and Land Rover have also tapped Bravo Group, which does media planning for Land Rover as well. To coordinate with Zubi Advertising, the Ford Division Hispanic agency that has broad media buying responsibilities for all Ford brands except Mazda, Bravo conducts its media planning and buying operations from offices in Miami, near Zubi's headquarters.

A Bravo team of 10 serves the Ford business and dealer groups from offices in New York; Miami; and Irvine, Calif. Soon Dearborn, Mich., where Lincoln-Mercury will be moving in the summer, will be added to the list.

Recently, the agency scored a timely coup by signing actress Salma Hayek, star of the film "Frida." "We secured her last year as the Hispanic spokesperson for Lincoln," Bravo Chairman-CEO Daisy Exposito says, "and she's been featured in believable situations, such as a movie set showing how Lincoln fits into her lifestyle. We started doing that work last year with the Lincoln LS and the Navigator. We've done two spots with her as well as print ads.

"She appeals to a younger, affluent Hispanic," Ms. Exposito says, "and having her as a celebrity who can speak not only to the Spanish-dominant population but to the bi-cultural Hispanics as well as the mainstream is very valuable for the brand."

As for Mazda, which Bravo won in 2002, Ms. Exposito said the present plan is to adapt the "Zoom, Zoom" campaign and use the same child actor. "It's a device so totally associated with the brand," she says, "that we feel it's smartest to leverage it. Research has demonstrated that there is equity of the 'Zoom' device with our target. Also, 'Zoom, Zoom' could also work very phonetically in Spanish."

UniWorld: Targeting the African-American market

Byron Lewis co-founded UniWorld Group in 1969. As head of what he says is the oldest multicultural agency in the U.S., he isn't worried about rhetorical distinctions between "black" and "African-American."

"I'm 70 years old," he says philosophically. "I have a license to says 'black' or 'African-American.'"

"At 70 you could say, 'Negro,'" a visitor says.

"Right," he laughs, "and 'colored' before that."

This sense of history allows him to see something others may miss in all the 100th anniversary hoopla over Ford, which UniWorld has been handling since 1985 when it won a piece of Lincoln-Mercury business. The Ford Division followed, and in 1999 the agency took on a significant share of the $3.1 billion Ford spends through its Supplier Diversity Development Division, for which UniWorld is agency of record.

"I take pride in our association with Ford," says Mr. Lewis, "which has the largest minority dealership group in the country and in the industry.

"We're proud of something else, too. Ford has a longtime business relationship with the African-American community. When Henry Ford created the assembly line, he needed workers. And that created the opening for African-Americans to work for a major corporation and receive equal wages. It was a major factor in spurring the migration from the South to northern cities.

"Henry Ford had more influence in creating the African-American market in this country than any other person," Mr. Lewis continues. "Ford's celebrating its 100th anniversary, but we call it 100 years of empowerment because Ford may well have created the foundation for the black middle class. I don't know whether [Henry Ford] did it for any social reason. But by being so inclusive, that was a breakthrough in American industry.

"Today, Darryl Hazel of Lincoln-Mercury is the only African-American president of a major automotive division. That happened in September 2002. So Ford's relationship with the black community is real and has deep roots."

"The growth of urban culture is a phenomenon we've taken advantage of," adds Mr. Lewis. "When you look at the music America listens to, it's hip-hop. Look at the outflow of fashion, lifestyle and the popularity of urban entertainers like Chris Rock. Add the NBA and the NFL, and this is a huge amount of visibility for young African-Americans. They are the driving force of contemporary U.S. culture.

"We've tried to capture this in our advertising, because it fits Ford's need and eagerness to reach a younger demographic. And the African-American and Hispanic segments are the youngest demographics in the country."

Because so much of that music and fashion crosses over easily to younger mainstream and Anglo consumers, Mr. Lewis finds opportunities for UniWorld's work to be seen not only by the target group but also by the mainstream market. "We take the general advertising theme," he points out, "but we do research and develop our own insights into the African-American consumer to create advertising that ties that theme into nuances that are effective against blacks. We create our own ads from scratch.

"When we do ads geared to urban customers," he explains, "it crosses over into the general market. Many of the personalities in our spots for targeted media like 'Soul Train' are just as popular, if not more so, in the general market. So our advertising has more value than just its credibility with the African-American audience. Many times our commercials score well enough so they are rotated within the general market television buy.

"A recent example was the introduction of the Ford Focus in 1999 in which Ford used UniWorld's creative work nationally to help drive the launch.

"It was an opportunity to produce work the world would see," Mr. Lewis says. "Focus was a small car and became a very successful intro."

Aston Martin: Going the in-house route

No brand in the Ford family has been so widely celebrated and seldom sighted as the Aston Martin. Between 1914 and 1964 the Aston Martin quietly made its reputation on the international racing circuit as the car that was more than a car. It has been wholly owned by Ford since 1994.

Then came James Bond and "Goldfinger" in particular, and suddenly the whole world knew about the car. Each drew power from the other in one of the most perfect of branding partnerships.

That may be why, among Ford Motor Co. nameplates, only Aston Martin has preferred to do its own marketing via the in-house route, although recently that's changed on a limited scale. In fall 2002, it retained a small German agency, Wensauer Advertising, to create its first national campaign in the U.S.

"They've just done some new creative for us," says Christina Abruzzi, communications and marketing manager for Aston Martin in America. "It's very clean and matches up with our ID very nicely. We only need one set of creative for the world."

The campaign will appear only in a handful of magazines: Architectural Digest, Elite Travel and six others, fitting for an automobile that starts at $145,000.

"Advertising is still a small piece of our business plan," says Ms. Abruzzi. "Events marketing is a huge piece. And one-on-one is even bigger. We've been on a seven-week tour to dealers. We call it the "Power, Beauty & Soul" tour. It's a way of celebrating what Aston Martin is all about. What we do in the course of a day at each dealership is meet with the lifestyle press and send out the message about who we are and where we're going. Then in the afternoon we meet with our customers and prospects."

More than any other brand in the Ford family, Aston Martin is unique. Any business model that sells 1,500 cars a year is surely an anomaly in the modern automobile business. But Ford respects the uniqueness and intends to keep it.

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