I don’t know what I find more silly. The fact that Ford has brought back the Taurus name or the fact that my colleague David Kiley—who does consider him a tastemaster of all things marketing—thinks it’s a great idea and that he deserves a whiff of credit for the decision.
In any case, it’s one of the dumber ideas I’ve seen in a while. Ford is taking a name that they killed with a decade of bad design and terrible sales and marketing strategies and putting it on a car that has gone unloved since its launch. Sounds like Ford will flush millions in marketing and ad dollars down the tube with this one.
True, the Taurus was once the best-selling car in America in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. Then Honda beat it with the Accord and Toyota eclipsed both with the Camry. The 1996 Taurus—the football-shaped disaster that came about when former company Chairman Alex Trotman challenged his designers to scare him—lost what remained of the franchise. Fired CEO Jacques A. Nasser didn’t come up with a quick and thorough facelift and the car sank into oblivion. Ford dumped the cars into rental fleets. For the past year, until the Atlanta factory was closed in November, it was exclusively a rental car. The name is synonymous with cheap cabins, ugly design and the loss of one of the best American car franchises in decades.
I’ll offer one caveat. It does have tremendous recognition. If Ford came back with a really great car, the kind of game changer it came up with in 1985, then the company could resurrect the name. But this modest upgrade of the 500 isn’t it.
My pal Kiley wants to know where to send the invoice for his sagacious marketing advice. If I were Ford, I’d sue him for malpractice.