While the division has had brand management for more than a year, the assignments give the marketing strategy new influence. Ford says each vehicle line will now have more efficient brand supervision-from product development to pricing.
The changes strengthen brand management at Ford Division-which sold 21% of all cars and light trucks in the U.S. last year-and in the auto industry as a whole. The management tactic was widely resisted by Detroit's insular automakers until the 1990s.
CLOSE TO GM'S STRATEGY
Ford Division's new brand strategy more closely resembles that of General Motors Corp., which named brand managers for each vehicle line in 1995.
"There is a certain discipline to brand management," said Darryl Hazel, Ford Division general marketing manager. "It forces you to look at the costs and benefits of actions as they relate to a specific product."
In January 1996, the marketer created five brand teams, a structure it junked last week by eliminating its "youthful," "family," "sporting," "expressive" and "tough" brand groups and managers. They each handled three to four nameplates.
With the new setup, Brian Miller becomes car group brand manager from youthful brand manager; J.C. Collins moves to multipurpose-vehicle group brand manager (Explorer, Expedition and Windstar), from family brand manager; and Paul Morel now is truck group brand manager, from "tough" brand manager. In addition, there are now 13 brand managers for the 16 vehicle lines.
Ten of the 13 nameplate brand managers at Ford were members of previous divisional brand management teams; the other three were members of medium- and heavy-truck operations now being folded into the new structure.
Lincoln-Mercury has had brand teams organized by nameplate since it adopted brand management 19 months ago, although Lincoln and Mercury brand managers are responsible for two to three nameplates.
Ms. Connelly is a reporter for Automotive News.