Ford Europe understood to be changing marketing structure

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BRUSSELS -- Ford is about to redefine Europe, splitting the region into four separate entities, according to a source close to the car maker.

The change, to be enacted early next year, is partly a response to disastrous results released last month which revealed that the car maker made a loss of over $450m in Europe during the three months to October. US rival General Motors turned in a $75m profit during the same period.

But a spokesman insists the restructuring has been planned for some time. "What we will announce to our employees next week is another fine tuning of the Ford 2000 initiative we started out with at the beginning of 1995," he says.

The sources close to Ford say that one of the four sub-regions will comprise Germany, the Benelux countries and Scandinavia, but a Ford spokesman would not comment on details.

At present Ford is structured along national lines, with sales and marketing operations in each European country. Ford of Europe is an umbrella organization based in the U.K., which oversees the national operations.

Ogilvy & Mather is Ford's main agency in Europe. The other is Young & Rubicam, which handles Ford in Germany and Ford's Galaxy minivan across Europe. Agency sources say they are ``nervous" about the changes. Agencies can look forward, however, to a new $40m pan-European corporate ad campaign that Ford is understood to be considering for next year. No decision has been announced on whether to proceed with Ford's first major pan- European campaign to promote the corporate brand, or which agency will handle it.

At the beginning of this year Ford introduced a brand management approach to its marketing, putting dedicated teams of marketers to work on specific car lines. The aim of this was to build consistency in the marketing platform of each model.

Traditionally, U.S. automakers have focuses their marketing on new model launches. In the last year Ford and the other two big U.S. automakers have been each been introducing their own versions of brand management in the U.S. and globally. Ford now assigns brand managers to nameplates based on vehicle attributes, grouped by such concepts as "youthful," "family", or "tough."

At General Motors there is three levels of branding. GM is a brand, along with each of its divisions such as Cadillac or Chevrolet, and then each individual vehicle is a brand.

Copyright November 1996, Crain Communications Inc.

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