Unlike its distressed U.S. counterparts, Ford Motor Co. has not resorted to “reinventing” itself, making it more attractive to consumers, says Jim Farley, Ford's group vice president-marketing and communications.
“It's nothing against our competitors; I'd be doing the same thing if I were in their position,” Farley says, referring to General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC, auto makers that went in and out of bankruptcy and took federal government bailout money to stay afloat.
Largely because it borrowed before the credit crisis hit last year, Ford sidestepped the cash-flow woes that hobbled its Detroit counterparts.
“By not taking emergency loans, we signaled we were different,” Farley says at a J.D. Power and Associates' automotive conference in Las Vegas. “Our strategy is so much different than competitors, who are busy telling people they are reinventing themselves.”
Consumers want to do business with companies that are well managed, Farley says. “People think that's cool.”
He says he is often approached by people who praise Ford for not taking federal loans and criticize GM and Chrysler for doing so. “They'll say, ‘You're from Ford, right? Freaking cool.’”
Ford may not be remaking itself, but it is undergoing big changes. One is an effort to leverage itself as a global company by, among other things, developing single-platform cars that can be sold throughout the world, Farley says.
Successfully doing that cuts development and production costs. In a previous Ward's interview, Ford CEO Allan Mulally described the auto maker as the biggest smallest company he'd ever seen when he hired on nearly three years ago.
He was referring to Ford's various worldwide operations working too independently of one another and lacking a common purpose.
Farley says of all the international markets, India is the most exciting to him because of its vast potential.
Meanwhile, he says investing in high-quality digital and online social media content helps an auto maker tell a brand's story and change customers' perceptions.
“At Ford, we have invested heavily in social media and organic marketing and we are achieving unprecedented levels of consideration,” Farley says in a keynote address. “Approximately 25% of Ford's global media buy is digital, and it is the richness of the digital experience that makes a big difference.”