DETROIT – Jim Farley, group vice president-global marketing sales and service, says Ford’s innovative use of social media to promote new products, including the Fiesta Movement campaign in 2009, sprung from necessity rather than keen insight.
The auto maker at the time had tough choices to make as budget restraints limited marketing initiatives during the launch of key new vehicles. “We did it with much less and used a lot of unique research,” Farley says at the Automotive News World Congress here. “We turned to new media. We had to.”
The Fiesta Movement was a resounding success, and Ford followed up with social-media campaigns for other new vehicles, including the Focus and Explorer. Farley says he quickly learned that by using social media the auto maker could attract potential customers to an upcoming product without sacrificing sales of the current model.
While budget restraints cut into the launch of the new Focus last year, Ford was able to add to its social-media campaign some traditional marketing, including print and television. But they paled in comparison with the previous model launch.
“We had more than 20 ad campaigns for the old Focus,” Farley says. But the next time around, “we couldn’t have that kind of waste.”
The auto maker launched the current Focus with one global campaign, keeping with the One Ford strategy that stresses leveraging global assets. The move shaved 10% off the total marketing budget.
“One campaign is too simple,” Farley says. “But 20 are way too much. Three to four is the ideal range.”
Leaner marketing is just one area Ford has sought to consolidate since Farley joined the company in 2007 after leaving Toyota. It was during those early days that newly named CEO Alan Mulally launched the One Ford strategy that sought to streamline the company’s global lineup.
The point of One Ford “was to dramatically simplify,” Farley says, revealing the auto maker now is planning for 85% of its global lineup to be based on just nine platforms by 2013.
Ford’s B and C platforms will account from more than 2 million units annually on a global basis, while the C/D architecture will spawn about 1 million. The light-truck platform will add 275,000 units and commercial-vans platform 470,000.
The latest product to come from the B platform is the EcoSport small cross/utility vehicle launched at India’s New Delhi auto show this week, which Farley says will drive Ford sales in key markets outside North America.
“We designed and developed it for the world,” he says of the all-new CUV, noting that in countries such as India it will considered “an aspirational product” with little competition.
Farley says Ford intends to have a wide range of new products based on the global B platform that underpins the Fiesta. The Focus’ C-platform now shoulders the new the Escape and European Kuga CUVs. Both will launch sales later this year.
The new Fusion and Mondeo sedans are based on the global C/D platform, which will underpin 10 new models by the end of 2014.
“The most important part of One Ford is the matrix organization and how we work as a team,” Farley says. “One Ford (was) a road map for survival.”