Ford Cars Used To Be Bad But Are Now Worth Buying. Honest.


[Ed. We commented on Ford's new Drive One tagline earlier in March. Now Advertising Age comments. Now, we comment again.] Just when you think that re-designed cars that actually look good and drive well - step forward Ford Focus and Chevy Malibu - might position the American carmakers to start winning back the market share and brand battle that they have been so abjectly losing to their Japanese rivals, AdAge reports on Ford's new campaign, called "Drive One".

Have you driven a Ford lately, anyone?

When a tarnished brand like Ford asks me to be surprised when I "drive one" I may register that Ford is building quality cars, but I am also reminded why I should be surprised by that - because their products were so bad for so long.

The work will focus on what Ford thinks are its four brand pillars: safety, quality, environmentalism and smart systems.

That is all well and good, but it is more cost of entry to the category than actually breakthrough. At this point, every car must be safe and Volvo still has the high ground. Quality is still a major ding on American cars so Ford should spend some time there, but Honda owns that. Environmentalism is clearly Toyotas. Smart systems, which basically means Ford's version of OnStar, is owned by GM. There is simple nothing in the "four pillars" of the Ford brand that is uniquely ownable to them.

In each pillar they pinpoint, the brand is playing catch-up.

To wrap this up, Ford's campaign is grounded in un-ownable equities and creatively driven by a call to action that reminds me that their cars used to be crap. Not good, my friends, not good.

by Daily Ad Biz    Apr-19-08   Click to Comment   
Topic: Brands, Campaigns, Opinion   

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"Drive One" doesn't sound desperate at all...

It takes bold moves for a company to be so focused.

Posted by: Nik on April 15, 2008 1:51 PM

"Drive One" is definitely focused, but the tagline coupled with the surprised reactions of the drivers (at least in the ad I saw at Ford's website) just reinforces in my mind the fact that I should be surprised that Fords are good cars. It makes me remember that they used to be very poor cars.

That is the primary issue with the creative.

Posted by: daily biz on April 15, 2008 3:47 PM

I think that this is a great campaign. They have great cars that are safe - Ford has more 5 star crash rating vehicles than anyone. Consumer Reports said Ford cars are among the leaders for reliability, in one article Dave Champion (of CR) praised Ford for their quality and scolded Toyota for slipping in the same breath.

I think the purpose of the campaign is to get people to understand that Honda doesn't own quality - Ford is right there! Ford bought Volvo and their safety know-how to create some of the safest cars around.

American cars ARE the right way to go! We need to appreciate them more!

Posted by: Tomm on April 15, 2008 3:49 PM

I miss the ones with Bill Ford claiming his blood had been replaced by gasoline.

Posted by: Jessie Birks on April 16, 2008 10:13 AM

Quality should be the main focus, maybe even the only one, for a little while.

Here's a new campaign: "Ford, finally out of the shitter." But they better be sure it's true. No TP stuck on the tailpipe.

"Drive one" is just a new century "Have you driven a Ford lately?" At least it's only 2 words, that's good, right?

Posted by: pat smith on April 17, 2008 2:35 PM

There's just one more little credibility problem -- I could have the best test-drive in the world, and Ford could have the best warranty in the world. But neither of those things can give me a 100% guarantee that when I walk out the door on any given morning, the thing is going to start.

If they want to prove things are really different, how about letting me give the car back if it has to go in the shop for warranty work, say, more than three times in the first year? (Considering it shouldn't even be once.)

Posted by: Mary Baum on April 22, 2008 10:57 AM

Your article presumes that their four pillars are nonexistant. That could not be farther from the truth.
1) quality- They suffered in the past, but have you actually looked up the data versus honda? they are very close, close enough to more than make up the price difference
2) Safety - The Ford Taurus is based on a Volvo S80 chassis. Please do your research before declaring Volvo safer than ford when Volvo is 100% owned by Ford and they share platform engineering and safety testing.
3) Environmentalism - The Ford Escape Hybrid gets better gas mileage than the Toyota Highlander Hybrid or the Lexus RX400H. For far less money with the same options. Ford offers flex-fuel vehicles that can run on biofuels such as E85, as well as propane (CNG) vehicles which have very clean emissions. They even have hydrogen powered charter busses in Detroit.
4) Smart Systems - How can you overlook Ford Sync?
It is a Ford exclusive joint partnership with Microsoft that allows complete voice control of radio, mp3, ipod, cellphone, and navigation systems. It also allows for searching of gas prices via Sirius Link.
GM requires you to pay a hefty annual subscription fee to use its OnStar as well as requires you to purchase Verizon calling minutes for it. It cannot be used with your existing cellphone or existing music player.
I've tested the Ford system and the voice recognition works perfectly for voice dialing over bluetooth as well as worked with both an Ipod and a Sony to play the songs with voice activation.

Posted by: zac on June 12, 2008 9:44 PM