As long as we’re on the subject of brands AND cars, I have to give two thumbs up to Bill Ford, the new "face" of Ford. Not long ago he became the chief delivery guy of the new Ford story and I think he made a wise decision.
As I think of car companies I can only think of three that have real people tied to them: Chrysler, Delorean (defunct) and Ford.
Lee Iacocca is credited with saving Chrysler, in part because he took their story straight to their customers. And he was a good messenger. He was believable. He helped us feel their was something more behind a Chrysler product than the other brands.
Delorean is barely worth mentioning except that as the flamboyant founder he did generate a lot of publicity for his failed company.
I don’t think Bill Ford has the gravitas of a Lee Iacocca but he is doing a good job. He represents the brand well. He’s told a consistent and optimistic story that we want to hear. He’s pressing the right buttons: safety, family, innovation, American pride.
Plus, being a descendant of the company founder Henry Ford, Bill brings something to the brand no one else could. He helps us remember this was once a family company and maybe, in some ways, it still is a family company.
Also, Ford is saturating the airwaves with their message. Usually I’m not a big fan of overdoing ads but I like the fact that they are competing on values other than price. Our big airlines have been competing on price for a long time and look where they are.
Another thing I like about Ford’s strategy is they are playing to a strength their competition does not have. No other auto manufacturer still has the founding family involved in running the company. Maybe it’s not a big deal but (for me anyway) there’s some value in knowing the guy at the top has the same name as the company. I get the feeling he’s not there for the paycheck.
I like their strategy because it puts a real person behind the product. People do business with people. We trust people more than companies. We want to know there are real people making sure the product is good and the service is right. We want someone in charge who is accountable and responsible.
Having a credible name and face standing behind a product is a big deal. And these days, very few large companies can honestly claim what Ford can. So, bravo to them for playing to their strength. I hope it works.