"Ford. Drive One." A Slogan For The Times

Posted by: David Kiley on March 18, 2008

2007_Ford_Fusion_ext_1.jpg


Ford is reportedly readying a new ad campaign for its struggling North American business under the theme: “Ford. Drive One.”

The campaign, developed under the guidance of Ford’s new chief marketer James Farley, and created by WPP ad agency Team Detroit, with the help of other WPP ad shops, will replace “Bold Moves,” which was introduced to bold yawns in 2006.

Ford CEO Alan Mulally has been angling for Ford to have a unified brand message worldwide. But before developing that structure, said one Ford executive, “We have stop the bleeding in North America.”

Before Farley came to Ford from Toyota last Fall, Team Detroit, Arnold Communications and another WPP ad shop had pitched new campaigns to Mulally, but none got greenlighted. Team Detroit’s slogan, thought to be the best of the three efforts, was “Everybody In.”

If “Ford. Drive One” sounds a bit “retailish,” it’s not by accident. Farley has been working closely with dealers to empower them more at the retail level with ad dollars. Dealers, in fact, had a great deal of input into the new campaign. Too, Farley is directing a lot of marketing money previously run nationally to the dealers and sales regions to use more tactically.

The new slogan also seems like a less musical version of “Have You Drive A Ford Lately?, an old line of Ford’s that Mullaly especially likes and has repeated several times in recent months as his preference. Taking that cue, some dealers, in Boston for example, began tagging their ads with the old slogan.

Ford is trying to boost higher consideration of its vehicles, which have been earning increasingly glowing reviews from J.D. Power and Consumer Reports for quality and design. The Ford Fusion, Edge and Lincoln MKX and MKZ, for example, have scored especially well. But Ford is hanging on to its current 16% market share by its finger nails.

I’ll reserve judgment on the new campaign until I see the creative work that goes with what feels like a limp ad slogan to me. Many marketing execs in the auto business downplay the importance of a slogan. I can see why. So many in the auto business, especially in Detroit are so lame that I would downplay them too.

But a good line doesn’t just sell, or boost consideration. It should serve as an anchor of the brand promise for both customers and employees, as well as well as dealers. I’m not sure “Ford. Drive One” does that. Would you eat at a restaurant that advertised: “Bob’s. Eat Here.” Would you be inspired to fly on an airline that pitched: “United: Fly Us.”

That’s all for now. “David Kiley. Read Me.”

Reader Comments

Dearborn Observer

March 18, 2008 2:04 PM

David you are spot on in your last paragraph. That said, Ford's greatest problem with its marketing slogans isn't that they are arguably lame; instead, Ford has embarked on an endless churn of ever-changing slogans over the past decade. Remember "Ford No Boundaries"? Even the recently hyped "Bold Moves" campaign is now being expensively consigned to the dustbin of advertising history.

Farley's biggest contribution to Ford isn't going to be a single slogan. His most important role at Ford should be to maintain a consistent message over time that dealers and salespeople can rally around, and that the public can absorb and associate with Ford over the long haul.

Copelli21

March 18, 2008 6:13 PM

Why come, US automakers are so stupid when it comes to the US car-buyer.

For example, Ford has decided to not release a 2008 version of the Focus Hatchback (zx-3). A car that I own and love dearly (my first american car) and get offers from others who want to buy it and trick it out. Young and old buy and own this car and are passionate about it.

My experience has been so favorable, I would buy another one in a second, but Ford isn't giving ZX-3 owners that option....they are however, giving European buyers the chance to do so. They have upgraded the ZX-3 they sell in Europe for 2008 and it's SWEET!

Given the opportunity I would upgrade in a nano-second! This doesn't diminish my love for my 2001 ZX-3, but I like to look to the future.

It's a cute, economical, sporty car with great mileage....just what American buyers are looking for in this rag-tag economy and Ford decides to discontinue this car and concentrate on what? Big Trucks? A new Taurus?

Again, why are US car makers so stupid?

Noz

March 18, 2008 7:24 PM

"Ford. Drive One." Limp ad slogan? I'll buy that. Goes along with Ford's limp car/truck lines, limp dealerships with their frantic sales staff, limp resale and often iffy long-term reliability.

Slogans don't sell vehicles, as you noted. What works best is as olde as man, including the female version. WORD OF MOUTH. But this requires satisfied buyers, something Ford does not have in significant numbers. I know several who are luke warm, one is embarrassed when I drive up in my '06 HONDA Pilot. Not that I am there to jump-start his Explorer, or yank it out of the garage so the flat-bed can haul it off for repairs yet again, but its lousy body integrity is grating on him. Try shutting the flimsy doors with the loose window glass, for one. Look at the failing paint, the yellowing headlight lenses, worn seating and misaligned hard plastic interior bits and pieces. And then there is the crash of the starter engaging, sure to get some attention of those without speakers jammed in their ears, perhaps a look or two of wonder. While looking, please note that puff of blue oil smoke. At 40K?

"Ford. Drive One." WHY? Sorry, sorry olde sad-sack Ford. You aided in my conversion to decent cars some time ago, and I am not about to go back to more of what you might promise but fail to deliver on.

TheyStilldon'tGetit

March 19, 2008 1:25 AM

Ford: Have you driven a Ford lately?
GM: Yeah,Like a Rock!
Ford: Ford has a better idea!
GM: It's an American revolution?
Ford: Ford, drive one!
GM: Listen to your heart beat, America!
They become comical slogans when read in context of each other. But the real tragedy is that American auto CEOs have either lost their focus or are just plain stupid.
When slogan substitutes for substance; when marketing ploy replaces engineering brillance; when style is more important than content;when being coy is presented as leadership we begin understand how the japanese and even the koreans auto makers are dominating the american auto business. In the past decade while GM, Ford, and Chrysler have been steadily closing assembly lines one after another, the foreign car makers are opening new ones. After a steady lost of market share to the foreign car makers for the last 30 years, this word-playing game is what Ford has to offer to the American car buyers. To be fair to Ford, GM is in the same sinking stinking boat. With gas prices reaching $4/gal, you would think Ford and GM would have introduced several hybrid sedans. Apparently, Ford's solution to the high gas prices is to give the american car buyer an idiotic slogan accompanied by a happy snappy jingle. Ford stock hit an all time low, under $5.40/share last week. GM's share fell to below $20/share. And their CEOs are sitting around devising clever sale slogans. It's OVER folks. It's definitly OVER when even numbskull David Kiley gets it right and sees the obvious futility in Ford's exercise of nonsense. The future for Ford: Look for a merger of Ford with another automaker. Ford is burning its precious cash too fast in the midst of a beginning long recession. At this rate Ford will go bankrupt because there will be no private equity bailout because private equity Cerberus is choking after buying Chrysler and wishing it never have bought it. Borrowing money from banks for buy-out is tough as ever when they are in liquidity crisis.

jac nassar

March 19, 2008 11:43 AM

Have you driven a ford lately was a great slogen they bought back taurus why not that???

MANNY D

March 19, 2008 7:06 PM

HEY KILEY, YOU'RE A RIOT!!A CATCHY SLOGAN CAN'T HURT, SINCE FMC HAS TRIED EVERYTHING TO GET CUSTOMERS, OLD & NEW ONES TO TRY & COMPARE THEIR VEHICLES, ESPECIALLY THE CAR LINES??TRUTH IS, THEY MEASURE UP WELL TODAY TO THE ASIAN COMPETITION, IMO!!FARLEY IS TRYING TO GET THAT WOULD-BE BUYER INTO THE DSHOWROOM & RAISE THE HOOD, KICK THE TIRES, THEN ACTUALLY ROAD TEST THE CAR & MAKE A FAIR COMPARISON TO THE MYRIAD OF CHOICES AVAILABLE??PEOPLE WHO BUY THE ASIAN MODELS, WITHOUT A TRUE HANDS ON TEST OF FMC PRODUCTS ARE THE TARGET IN THIS AD CAMPAIGN!!IT JUST MAY PRODUCE SOME GOOD RESULTS FOR MULALLY & CO!!! MANNY D BAY SHORE NY

McMann&Tate

March 22, 2008 10:35 AM

Does anybody even know what Toyota or Honda use for a slogan? (honestly, without googling for it). I don't care if the Ford slogan is boring. The truth about the product and the treatment people get from the dealers will rule Ford in the end.

Mark

April 16, 2008 2:32 PM

I'm still waiting for my '74 Ford to bite the dust. Even its Philco-Ford 8-track doesn't miss a beat. When, and if, she goes I'll be shopping. For another Ford. Maybe with a CD player!

just me

June 17, 2008 3:49 PM

If the people who commented against Ford's new visions of their vehicles did some research, they would see that Ford is now ranked right next to Toyota in QUALITY; that the Ford Mustang is the first sports car to receive a 5-STAR SAFETY RATING and that althought their car lines aren't all geared towards hybrid, they are developing excellent FUEL EFFICIENT VEHICLES. Ford is, and will continue to be built Ford TOUGH.

Who wants to know

November 2, 2008 4:51 PM

Toyota's slogan is: a smart way to keep moving forward

Post a comment

 

About

Want the straight scoop on the auto industry? Our man in Detroit David Welch, brings keen observations and provocative perspective on the auto business.

BW Mall - Sponsored Links

Buy a link now!