The decision has been made at Ford that “Bold Moves” as a brand strategy/ad tagline is dead. It’s just a question of when the funeral takes place.
CEO Alan Mulally has been vocal about his plans to focus the company globally around the Ford brand. Indeed, he is trying to find buyers for the company’s prestige brands—Jaguar, Land Rover and Volvo. Lincoln figures to stay around in the U.S. And Mercury is still up in the air, though it doesn’t appear to have any future product plan.
To find a new brand strategy, Mulally is not waiting to hire a chief marketing officer. There is a review going on right now among WPP agencies—JWT, Ogilvy and Mather, and Berlin Cameron United. Whichever strategy wins out, Ford’s WPP shop in Detroit, Team Detroit, will deliver it.
Ford had a shootout for the launch of its 2008 Focus, which resulted in Team Detroit retaining the assignment. That shows the company’s evolving “The Best Idea Wins” philosophy going forward. In the past, JWT/Detroit had a lock on the Ford account. At least now, the company is drawing on all WPP agencies.
Mulally saw pitches this week from the three agencies. But, I’m told, didn’t communicate great enthusiasm for any of them to be developed further. That’s promising. The last thing Ford needs is to knee-jerk to a new brand strategy. Indeed, one wonders if its a good idea to settle on a big strategy intended to be deployed around the world at all before Ford has named a CMO.
There is no hard deadline for settling on a new brand idea. In fact, Ford executives are taking care to make sure the next idea is THE idea. Prior to “Bold Moves,” Ford had an awful run of advertising ideas, changing ad strategies and lines four times in five years. Incoming sales and marketing executives were empowered to make such changes willy nilly to the detriment of the brand.
But Mulally said last month at a press dinner that he is not waiting for a CMO to be named to get a new brand strategy underway. He also said that his vote for a new strategy would be a rekindling of “Have You Driven a Ford Lately?” Apparently, he has been sufficiently talked out of that idea. But you never know. Without a new strategy in place, anything is possible. Indeed, some dealer groups, unhappy with Ford’s retail strategy, have taken to using the old ad line in their marketing.
They aren’t waiting for a new CMO either.