Ford raises its profile in chauvinistic France

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PARIS--Ford Motor Co. has launched a major print campaign to boost its image in the staunchly chauvinistic French auto market.

"A major player in French industry" is the main slogan of Ford's $800,000 print campaign, created by Euro RSCG Worldwide.

The campaign is similar to a "Made in France" campaign recently launched by McDonald's Corp. here in response to anti-U.S. protests by French farmers. While Ford has not suffered similar protests, it did come under attack earlier this year after it dramatically lowered prices to win a contract to supply vehicles to the French government in the first tender ever opened to foreign carmakers.

The double-page ads, currently running in five daily national news-papers, feature Ford employees describing the company's century-old history in France, its environmental record and its contribution to French industrial development.

French consumers are overwhelmingly nationalistic in their vehicle choices, with the two French auto marketers, Renault and PSACitroen,controlling about 60% of the domestic market.

Ford sold 133,000 of the 1.9 million vehicles purchased in France during 1998, for a market share of just less than 7%. In comparison, the U.S. company sold 1.45 million cars across Europe, the equivalent of a 10% market share.

Copyright September 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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