Ford looks to position as technology leader

Ford is launching a global initiative that it hopes can position it as a leader in providing accessible in-car technology and engineering excellence that make a real difference to customers’ experience.

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The car marque, which celebrated its centenary in the UK last year, is launching a global campaign called Real World Challenges that aims to engage customers, dealers and employees in a dialogue about the technologies in Ford products and how they impact on their lives.

Fans will be invited to submit ideas and short videos of “real world challenges” via Facebook that will later form TV, cinema, radio and digital content.

Anthony Ireson, who took over the Ford UK marketing director role last July, concedes that eight years ago the brand had an issue with how “stylish” it was perceived which was a barrier to awareness of any other attributes.

Ireson says: “Our four brand values are quality, green, safety and smart, and technology is at the heart of all of those but consumers take stylish as a proxy for everything, and so we had to address that in order to move on and communicate the other things that we do well. Once people get that the brand is stylish, they get the substance and technology.”

“Technology is driving the brand forward but technology is really hard to communicate. At the geeky end, Apple is the only tech company that has managed to achieve an emotional connection. We want to be more about the emotional with car technologies and how they fit into the real world.”

He adds that Ford has a history of “democratising” technology by offering high end technologies as standard but people don’t realise that Ford is developing these technologies, not just adopting something designed by someone like BMW.

Ford is the latest car marque to reveal a new marketing strategy to differentiate form the market as car manufacturers look to boost sales following the lowest UK new car sales in a decade last year. Ford UK reported a 5% fall in sales to 265,894 vehicles in 2011, down from 280,364 in 2010.

Honda launched its “Your Honda, Your Way” customisation initiative which allows drivers to choose from a range of services to create a bespoke package that suits their specific needs, while Peugeot hopes to win over drivers by focussing on happiness and joy to cut through “overblown” price offers crowding the market.

Competitive set:

Market share Dec 2011
Vauxhall: 13.3%
Ford: 12.3%
Volkswagen: 8.9%
BMW: 6.3%
Audi: 5.5%
Nissan 4.9

(source SMMT)

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