• Apr 15th 2008 at 4:30PM
  • 35
After spending a few days with Ford's main-marketing-man Jim Farley and his team, we can truly say that the excitement surrounding the company's new Drive One marketing strategy is palpable. They believe that the story they have to tell is rather compelling; the real struggle will be convincing car-buyers that their vehicles are every bit as good as their competition from Japan -- as recent studies indicate. To show people what's going on behind the scenes, Farley and his posse brought Ford's best and brightest engineers with them to Las Vegas to introduce their dealer-base to the new campaign. They let us tag along so we could see what all the fuss is about, and the dealers we spoke to seemed pretty pumped about Drive One and felt that Farley's new team at Ford was finally listening to them and doing something with their input. Keep reading to find out what else we heard in Sin City.

Efforts are already underway at Ford to spread the word that it offers high quality cars and trucks. One way they are doing this is by handing the keys to consumers who drive the competition's cars and then allowing them to pass the vehicle on to a friend. We got the chance to speak to some of the people who drove the vehicles and each one of them said the experience moved them to consider a Ford for their next vehicle. Amy Hardigree, one of the "Town to Town -- Friend to Friend" participants, told us, "I was so impressed by the design and technology, I realized what I was missing in my Volkswagen Beetle, and it was great that I was able to then share the experience with my friend." After speaking with her, we think that she wasn't being paid... she really seemed to like the car. That's the rub, though. She says she never would have considered Ford before. She literally had to be given the car free for a week to get her to drive it. At the end, though, she says she was sad to see it go.

Ford also wants viral marketing to play a role in its new marketing campaign. With 750,000 employees and retirees, Ford is hoping that word-of-mouth advertising will get people talking about its improved products. Expect to see a huge push from Ford in the coming months urging you to test-drive one of its vehicles. It plans on launching the Friend to Friend experiments in a few more cities, including import-rich west coast cities like L.A. and Phoenix. Farley's stated goal is to get "one human being talking to another human being about Ford."

To that end, the new Drive One campaign is focused on four categories: quality, green, safe and smart. Each topic is broken down on Ford's website here. Farley points out that there have been six different marketing strategies in the last six years at Ford, and he says that the success of Drive One will be apparent in five years, not in five weeks. Ford's employees have bought into the new scheme, as have the dealers. Most important will be whether or not consumers buy it.

Our travel and lodging for this media event was provided by the manufacturer.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 7 Years Ago
      I think Ford is taking GQRS way too seriously than they should. It's good to have good 3MIS numbers (TGW/1000 etc.) but 1YIS and 3YIS is where the real test is. In any case, this particular survey is very subjective.

      If their vehicles have same or better quality than some of the quality leaders' vehicles than people will automatically start talking about it and eventually they will see the perception of their reputation chanigng in positive direction. It wil take time, there is nothing Ford can do.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Fact of the matter is that GQRS tells you that your new product is better (and that assembly is better), warranty trend reports tell you that you have been making progress over time (especially in mechanical parts). I believe Ford has done much better in both arenas, they've continually announced reduced warranty numbers in double digit percentages for the last three years.
        • 7 Years Ago
        I'm not sure that you can look at Saturn and say they've had a 30% decline in sales because they've imported Opels as Saturns...I personally think they have great products, but they need to prove themselves. Having a few great products isn't going to instantly fix people perception. Why should I buy a Saturn/Chevy/Pontiac verse a Nissan/Toyota/Honda....I think they need to get people back into show-rooms.

        Having a great line of cars is a start. Having great quality products is key too. But it will not happen overnight.
      • 7 Years Ago
      • 7 Years Ago
      recent studies that now TIE ford with Honda and place them AHEAD of toyota for quality).
      .........Man you have to be an a$$, or do you just like to talk out of it?.........Apr 7th 2008 5:57PM The Bloomfield Hills, Michigan-based RDA Group has found that Ford is on par with top-level stalwarts Toyota and Honda when it comes to vehicle quality. Ford managed 1,284 "things-gone-wrong" (TGW) per 1,000 vehicles during the first three months of...
      • 7 Years Ago
      I like Ford.

      That said, I wouldn't necessarily say they're at Toyota or Honda reliability levels, but then again, neither is Volkswagen, Isuzu, Nissan, BMW, Rolls-Royce, Ferrari, Lamborghini...

      ...So yeah. Realistically, people who say Ford sucks aren't seeing the big picture, people who say Ford's the best are slightly off. But it's definitely up there.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Keep in mind people that Ford PAID FOR THE SURVEY.

      And all this useless survey proves is that Ford's are equal with Honda and Toyota when the roll off the assembly line.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Are surveys paid by parties to tatter (proper use?) the electoral base invalid as well?
        • 7 Years Ago
        Ford paid for the survey results. But Ford doesn't want to know fiction for its internal metrics. This survey is scientifically valid and, even if they did pay for it, is on par with recent surveys from JD Power, Consumer Reports and others.

        Yes, Ford now has cars with the same initial quality of Toyota and Honda - and if their performance on JD Power's long-term survey consistently improves as it has for the next couple years, they will have equal 3-year reliability too.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Just save the campaign money, and bring over the European and Australian Ford models. If not, I'm never ever gonna drive one.
      • 7 Years Ago
      With Ford and GM's (especially GM) products so vastly improved one of their biggest challenges will be getting people to at least try the car. I wish Ford luck.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Agreed. Heres to hoping Ford brings back the Focus 3, 5door and chevy makes a hatchback Cobalt not called an HHR.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Drive one...back to the dealer so you can find a better car, or just wait till they bring the nice ones from Europe here
        • 7 Years Ago
        as they say... ignorance is bliss...

        you sound very blissful...
        • 7 Years Ago
        oh.. well since you put it that way your comments make much more sense.

        oh, wait, no they dont. another typical rant from a bitter consumer lost in the previous decade of blunders. the whole point of the campaign is looking ahead. driving the vehicles again to see the changes. a portfolio that favors SUVs and trucks? are you kidding? for one, Ford has always dominated trucks and SUVs and will continue to do so, because even if gas hits $14.00 a gallon people will continue needing them. for two, ford is DOMINATING CUV and small car (finally) segments in terms of pure growth. in the next 2 years you will get the euro focus, you will get the euro suvs. etc. in the mean time, every product will be best in class in terms of fuel economy, safety and technology. you may hate sync, but guess what? 88% of people in the market for buying a car WANT sync's capabilities.
        it must be cool to hate sweet technology and forward thinking in canada or something...
        • 7 Years Ago
        I'm ignorant because you sound like a fanboy ("LOOK AT ALL FORD'S AWARD, F*CK")?

        They may have the fit, finish and initial quality, but would I drive a new Ford? No. Why? Design, dynamics and a product portfolio that favors the purchase of trucks/SUVs.

        I loved the refreshed ZX5 (5-door Focus), save for the dash materials, but now? It feels smaller than its predecessor and I've never felt this unattracted to a car before (the styling is something I could live with, but there's little about the car that I like (the Fusion's FINE, but why would I pick fine when I can get awesome?).

        Needless to say, the only ones I've been seeing on my roads (Canada) are all wearing fleet plates and 'Enterprise' badges... Hell, even the dealers are replacing their old courtesy cars with them (usually overstock/stuff that didn't sell at the end of the MY). Aside from SYNC (which I despise anyway) and general cheapness... Seriously, why would I buy one when I can get better for about the same money?
          • 7 Years Ago
          Yo, Aprime!

          Good points, but everything you just mentioned is subjective.

          "They may have the fit, finish and initial quality, but would I drive a new Ford? No. Why? Design, dynamics and a product portfolio that favors the purchase of trucks/SUVs."

          Design is decent on most Ford models, if nothing special. Dynamics on the Focus are still quite sporty. Some people (especially Ford's customer base) like SUVs. It favors the purchase of SUVs because that's what the customer wants--or at least has for nearly two decades. Let's not forget that Toyota, for all its good points, has let the Corolla languish for several years; less than Ford's Focus, but still nothing to sneeze at considering it's one of their most important vehicles and has a long, long reputation to uphold.

          Everything you just said is precisely what Detroit fanboys have said about Toyota for years. "They've got the reliability down, and the fuel economy, but where's the fun? Ugly little boring cars, who wants that?"

          Not trying to be mean, but seriously dude, that's being kind of a hypocrite.
        • 7 Years Ago
        brand isnt really important to me, i just dont like what ford is currently offering
        • 7 Years Ago
        wow. thats a relatively dumb comment to make. considering Ford now makes one of the best products on the road (dont listen to Ford, just read all the 3rd party endorsements, and recent studies that now TIE ford with Honda and place them AHEAD of toyota for quality).
        is your comment because YOU dont like their cars? because guess what? Ford is legit and their products are legit. and the pipeline of products coming is going to blow you away.
          • 7 Years Ago
          "... just read all the 3rd party endorsements, and recent studies that now TIE ford with Honda and place them AHEAD of toyota for quality"

          Which ones you are talking about, I am interested in reading them. BTW, that TGW one is Ford paid.

          In any case, there are way too many white Americans who seriously dislike Ford (for real reasons or percevied one), at least that's what I've noticed whenever I travel outside MI.
        • 7 Years Ago
        "I'm a fanboy that is blinded by all the chrome over Ford's vehicles."
        • 7 Years Ago
        I really didn't have anything in mind when I said that (which is the reason why most of my comments appear to be poorly constructed... Or planned :v).

        Actually, I was pretty happy with last decade's product, I owned an Escort until last Summer and I've been pretty happy with it, disregarding all the problems it had (due to poor maintenance from the previous owner, be it rust (re-coat your cars after 5 years, please) or anything else. It's the stuff that's been planned under Bill Ford's (and that the current guys are being accounted for, just like Lutz was being accounted for the crap that had already been planned once he got his current job) reign that I hate (looking ahead, things aren't looking so grim, but right now? Bleh, nothing for me).

        So what if they dominate those markets? I could care less, I don't need a truck, I never needed a truck, and I will never need or want a truck. SYNC is a novelty the first couple of times you try it, but the thing gets absurd after a while. Do I want Bluetooth and USB in my car? Of course. Do I want a passable voice-integration system? No, I'd rather wait 'til the technology's really there (SYNC 2.0 probably addresses a lot of the problems with the present iteration).

        If there's one thing I'm pissed at them for is certainly discontinuating the Focus wagon (didn't really have an interest in them) and hatchbacks. :P Their trucks have served my grandpa well and Mazda makes cars that I love... And they made cars my father loved back when he was alive.
      • 7 Years Ago
      The mere fact that Ford is annoucing that they are doing something about the quality of their vehicles tells you a lot about the state of quality they have been in the past. You can't fault consumers for being skeptics when history has shown the big 3 automakers have struggled to compete with foreign automakers.

      So its not like the bitterness is out the blue, or just lashing out for no reason.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Ford's quality has been increasing for YEARS. Do not blam the manufacturer for the consumers bieng ignorant and blinded by the lie that only imports provide reliability. Even CR says that most Fords are reliable and they have the best overall reliability out of the Detroit automakers. So many people talk about this legacy of unreliable products but few provide any specific examples. I read all of the posts here and out of all the critical comments posted no one actually gave concrete examples of poor Ford quality in the last decade or so. Just TALKING about inferior quality without any proof is WORTHLESS. I have yet to get a coherent explanation of why GM, Ford and Chrysler have recently boosted their powertrain warranties if their engines and trannies don't last. Can any of the Ford bashers explain that one to me? who extends warranties on unreliable components and expects to make money? Furthermore, why is it Chrysler (not Toyota or Honda) was the first one to offer a 7 year powertrain warranty and now a lifetime powertrain warranty?

        "The mere fact that Ford is annoucing that they are doing something about the quality of their vehicles tells you a lot about the state of quality they have been in the past. "

        Toyota and Honda mention reliability and quality in their ads ALL THE TIME. What are you talking about? Unlike Ford they never provide any studies or data to back that up. Thats probably because aside from CR they rarely rank at the top of quality surveys.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Meh, the closest I will get to a Ford is a Mazda. Sorry Farley, no amount of marketing will get me back in a Ford.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I won't be driving one. It is my money, and I will not be encouraged to spend it on a product line that has yet to prove itself in comparison road tests with the competition. Long term durability is also an issue. When Ford has the same unbreakable reputation for their engines that Honda has I will maybe consider one.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Aprime, I do not have an '01 Civic so I do not have a problematic tranny. I do have a '96 Civic with an automatic tranny and a '01 Acura Integra with a manual tranny, neither of of which have been a problem. I have been aware of automatic transmission problems with Honda-Acura products, but that will not be enough to cause me to shop a Ford. Thank you for you consideration.
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