Ford Aims to Unify Worldwide Message

Carmaker Moves to Consolidate Marketing Under New Director Elena Ford

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DETROIT ( -- Ford Motor Co. in the past year consolidated its product development into one organization, dubbed "One Ford," from separate groups around the world. Now it's doing the same with marketing.

Elena Ford
Elena Ford
The automaker today said it will beef up its worldwide marketing arm with an eye toward sharing creative and marketing resources globally and communicating a consistent message around the world. To that end, the company tapped company scion Elena Ford to the new post of director-global marketing, sales and service operations. The shift is effective Feb. 1.

Ms. Ford, the great-great-granddaughter of company founder Henry Ford, will report to Jim Farley, group VP-marketing and communications. She was exec VP-global brand and marketing at financing arm Ford Motor Credit Co.

'Global vehicles'
The move "comes at a time when we're going to launch global vehicles," said a Ford spokesman, who added that the automaker may share creative globally. "We don't necessarily have to do all separate executions" to launch the same vehicle in North America, Europe and Asia. The redone Ford Focus, which will be launched simultaneously in North America, Europe and Asia in 2010, will be the first vehicle to be introduced under the new global coordination.

The shift likely won't affect ad agencies, as the automaker works with WPP in North America as well as around the world.

How is this new arrangement different from Ford's marketing in the past? The automaker has had a global marketing group for more than a decade, but the regional brand chiefs never really embraced the team; the group's work was "more touchy-feely," and the unit "became a haven for one step out of the company," said Martin Collins, regional VP-western region for a group of auto dealerships called Group One.

Mr. Collins, who left Ford a couple of years ago after rising to exec director of Ford, Lincoln and Mercury marketing, is optimistic about Ms. Ford, whom he had worked with and described as a "bulldog" with a solid background in auto marketing. "She's going to get things done a lot faster" because of her family ties, he said.

'The next step'
"Enhancing the global marketing organization is the next step in our One Ford vision to integrate Ford's worldwide operations and leverage our scale and expertise," Mr. Farley said in a prepared statement. "Elena brings a wealth of experience to the new position and is the ideal leader to drive a coordinated approach for our worldwide marketing efforts and speak with one consistent and compelling voice to customers."

Anne Belec, who was director-global marketing at Ford, left the automaker after nearly 24 years earlier this month to pursue other interests, Advertising Age reported first earlier this month. But Ms. Belec's duties didn't incorporate sales or service.

There's no word on Ms. Ford's successor at Ford Credit, the spokesman said.

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