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Ford Turns to Employees In An Effort To Break Brand Apathy

What do you do if, as VP of an ailing company, you're called to rekindle apathy in an iconic American brand?

If you're Jim Farley, group VP Marketing and Communications for Ford, you turn to your employees. Ford's latest marketing campaign called "Drive One", veers away from traditional marketing and turns back to its roots. People talking to people, in order to revive and engage a brand.

Farley realized that one reason the brand isn't selling so well is that people don't care about it. If they don't care, they won't be engaged, and they won't think of Ford when in the market for a new car. Struggling with the challenge of driving people to dealerships, Ford has asked its 750,000 employees to talk to friends and family about the quality and features of Ford vehicles. In spite of $1.76 billion spent on advertising last year, sales continue to dip.

The campaign will go heavy on TV and print spots which will drive people to the site www.forddriveone.com. It will also feature a series of webisodes featuring people expressing surprise reactions at the quality and "coolness" of Ford vehicles. Ford discovered that once consumers were in a car having a positive experience, they would be more likely to purchase a Ford in the future.

Ford has a battle ahead as it struggles to regain its brand sense of "American-ness." In an effort to remind consumers of its reputation as an American icon, Ford is turning to what might be its last resort in an effort to regain market share - the people.

Logo_ford_driveone_whiteWhat lessons can be learned out of this experience?

1) A huge advertising budget is of no value if people are not engaged with your brand

2) When everything else seems to fail, turn to your customers and prospects and give them an experience that leaves them wanting more

3) Appeal to the emotions in an effort to re-engage your brand and you will win people's hearts (and pocketbooks)

4) There are no guarantees in marketing and you can't afford to become complacent about your brand

5) Don't take a brands iconic status for granted - a brand is built on the experiences of the people who buy into it

What do you think about Ford's efforts to regain its iconic status? Where do you think the company went wrong? What would you do in Ford's situation?


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