Today it was announced that Ford enjoyed its 10th straight quarterly profit.
Here's what I love about that (from a marketing standpoint):
Back when the auto industry was getting absolutely destroyed by an economic meltdown and skyrocketing gas prices, North American auto manufacturers were clamouring for government bailout money to stay afloat. Ford said "No thank you. We're righting this ship on our own". And they did (obviously), by focusing on marketing. They shed superfluous and strategically misaligned products (some models, but also some brands including the atrocious Land Rover and Jaguar brands). They invested in advertising (with fairly high production values, I might add). They examined the wants and needs of their primary audience and designed products accordingly (the $16K, fuel-efficient Focus, as an example). From a marketing perspective, a pure focus on fundamentals and execution.
All that being said, I still hate them.
I've done my share of Ford-bashing over the years and they still haven't fixed their fundamental issue: poor quality. They're just not telling anyone about it. Read any worthwhile product quality review source (Consumer Reports is my favourite), and you'll find that Fords, quite simply, break down all the time. To combat this, they are simply preying on the ignorance of the uninformed through deceitful and arguably unethical advertising. First, they state repeatedly in advertising that "quality is now equal with Honda and Toyota". Well, if you actually read the fine print in those ads (yep, I'm that guy!), you discover that they're referencing "initial quality survey results". Essentially, they ask new Ford owners if they are happy. Of course they are - they just bought it! They also ask new Honda and Toyota purchasers the same question and get the same answer, leading to their claim of "equal" quality ratings. That's not even scratching the surface of the overall product quality issue. Second, they've started claiming a fuel-efficiency advantage with ads featuring Ford owners (actors) proudly (and repeatedly) stating that they "haven't bought gas in over a month". Well, as any informed viewer/purchaser can understand: if you don't drive, you don't need gas! Even my 8 year-old son chastised them about that (I'm not even making that up)! Ford, don't insult us by trying to deceive us. I am sad for the uninformed, who presumably didn't see through the advertising trickery and went ahead with their purchase.
You see why I am vexed so? I can't decide if I am impressed by their relentless focus on the fundamentals of marketing, or disgusted by their advertising deception and manipulation.
This blog is written by Glenn Cressman, Share Of Marketing's founder and Chief Share Builder (bio). It covers all things marketing. Feel free to comment!