Bold Moves Leads Huge Losses

Ford Bold Moves marketing campaign 

Since I wrote the post What The Hell is Going on at Ford?, July 24, 2006, I have kept a close eye on Ford. How could you not? They are major business news – one of the goliath Top Three US auto companies fighting for its life.  The question six months ago was: can its Bold Moves blog, social media and ad campaign re-brand the company and drive it toward profitability. The answer is obviously a resounding no, as Ford today reported staggering losses. See Ford Reports Biggest Loss Ever (CNNMoney.com). 

Weak sales of its key pickup trucks in the quarter and $9.9 billion in after-tax charges due to employee buyouts and plant closing plans resulted in $12.7 billion loss for 2006. That works out to a loss of just over $24,000 a minute throughout the course of the year, or about the price of a Ford Mustang – Chris Isidore, CNNMoney.com, 1/25/07

Ford threw a Hail Mary pass, as far as its public marketing campaign, and asked the great mass of consumers out there to help re-define the company, give it purpose. The consistent comment Ford got from the public was: Build better cars and cut the BS. Some resented the quasi-public company appeal as being intrusive, and a sign of weakness. Lee Iacocca, when he was saving Chrysler from the abyss, used to say “Lead, follow, or get out of the way.” Ford was groping, saying “Please love us and buy our cars, we are trying so hard.” 

All the behind-the-scenes chatter, and the many displays of the rich, deep, entrepreneurial history of the company, and the exhortations to “Change or Die” (Okay, does that mean that they now die?), and the almost desperate, retro public love fest with the Mustang, could not overcome the central issue with Ford – they need to build cars as well as Japan, Korea, Germany, virtually anywhere else. As edgy and seemingly forward-thinking as Bold Moves was – it was hopelessly mucked in the past.  

So, does Ford have a chance? Possibly. Wall Street did not hammer the stock, yet, on the news. They took a big but necessary hit on employee buyouts. They have a dynamic, turnaround driven CEO. But it’s clear that Bold Moves yielded meek returns and a new campaign is needed. How about Baby Steps? See final Bold Moves video episode.

Ford Bold Moves

Ford Bold Moves is a video documentary series that takes you inside Ford Motor Company as it attempts one of the largest corporate turnarounds in history. With candid interviews from Ford executives, employees, industry experts and even Ford detractors, Bold Moves approaches each segment from every angle and keeps asking the question: Will Ford succeed?

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