Thursday, June 11, 2009
Dear Ford Motor Company, I Have An Idea...
That’s right FMC, I have an idea, and I think you’re going to like it.
But first, let me just say congratulations! You won. You played it perfectly by not taking the bailout money. GM took piles of it and then went back and begged for more, and now they’re in Chapter 11 anyway. It couldn’t have worked out any better if your own writers had written the script.
And by the way, did they? Just thought I’d ask.
Didn’t you just love (privately, of course) that little business of closing all of those dealerships with almost no notice? What mischievous Tokyo consulting firm suggested that PR triumph?
Story after story of family-run dealerships, doing business in their communities for generations, sponsoring little league teams, supporting the local theater company, remaining loyal to GM and Chrysler through good times and bad, suddenly and callously forced to sell the their cars at huge losses – cars they had bought in good faith, cars they were often pressured to buy – putting their employees out of work and driving the owners into financial ruin. Nice.
And won’t that be the gift that keeps on giving, as we get to drive by all the prominently located shuttered dealerships, in buildings that will likely sit depressingly empty for a very long time, serving as monuments to incompetence. Catchy phrase, don’t you think?
So, while GM continues to implode (and Chrysler, well, I think we can safely forget about them. Can’t we?), Ford is fast on the way to becoming America’s Car Company.
And, your brilliant strategy is starting to show.
Your cars have been getting some very impressive reviews. I rented a Fusion recently. Not a bad car at all. And, I can see myself driving a Mustang, or maybe an Escape, but I’ll get to that later.
In the past few weeks, I’ve noticed at least three taxicabs that were Escape hybrids.Yup, the next time the price of gas goes out of sight, those guys will be shuttling passengers without losing profits. Smart. Very smart. It’s great street-level, sticky advertising, and it won’t cost you a dime.
And, speaking of great street-level, sticky advertising, here’s my idea.
This has been a bitch of a year for all of us. You’re probably stuck with some cars that, sadly, will never get sold. I’ve heard that some of those cars will eventually be worth less than the ground they sit on and will be sent to the crusher to be turned into metal splinters.
I would like you to save one of those for me. My Subaru Forester is on its last legs. I’ve been driving foreign cars my whole adult life. It’s time for me to get with the program – The Ford Program.
Here’s my deal. Give me one of those cars. Like a lot of people, I happen to be a victim of this very dismal economy. But, please do not think that I’m asking for a gift. Far from it. I want you to turn the car into a mobile billboard. You could paint a powerful message on both sides like: Ford Escape Hybrid – 34-MPG City, or Most Fuel-Efficient SUV On The Road Today – something like that.
Your job is to figure out the message and my job will be to get out there and spread that message. And I just happen to have a few strategies for doing this.
I call this my CAN’T MISS ME IF THEY TRY STRATEGY.
I would intentionally get caught in traffic jams, where I’m on a highway, heading in the jammed up direction. Where heading south is bumper to bumper, I would be heading south.
I would be sure to be in the left hand lane, so that free flowing traffic, heading north would have to see your mobile billboard, and I would smile and wave as those cars pass by. They would plainly see how much I was enjoying the traffic jam in my comfy, fuel stingy Ford.
I would commit to doing this at least three days per week, for at least an hour per day. We’ll put that in my contract.
I call this my HOW MANY CASES OF TOILET PAPER WILL FIT? STRATEGY.
I will make weekly trips to Costco, where I will buy cases of as much bulky product as could be neatly packed into the car.
First, I would be centrally parked so that shoppers going to or from the store could watch me cheerfully loading cases of toilet paper, paper towels, humongous bottles of salad dressing and tomato sauce, into the cargo space. While loading my mobile billboard, I would loudly remark, “I can’t believe how much this car can hold. It’s practically impossible to fill this baby up.”
This little gem is called the HERE COME THE ELEPHANTS STRATEGY.
For exposure to pedestrian traffic, there is nothing better than being downtown when families are walking from the parking garages to the civic center or arena to go see the circus. The trick here is to be stuck at a crosswalk where the pedestrian traffic never lets up. If you don’t hit it just right, you circle around until you do.
It’s not just circuses. This strategy works great for sporting events, home or garden shows – any event where pedestrians cheerfully exercise their right to ignore green lights and saunter across busy streets, sticking it to people behind the wheel. I confess, I don’t understand the mentality, since most of those pedestrians had just, themselves, been behind the wheel. But, no matter, it works every time.
Well FMC, are you with me so far? Admit it, you like this, don’t you? Now, let me give you the big picture, which is not just me out there spreading the good word about America’s Car Company, its lots of us. It’s an army of highly trained, super motivated, unemployed foot soldiers (make that: car soldiers) positioned strategically across the country, on a mission.
Are you seeing the heartwarming PR in this fabulous campaign?
Well, Ford guys, that’s just a taste. I have other ideas. Lots of them. But, I don’t want to give them away all at once. If you like this deal, I’ll be happy to send you a proposal with lots of detail. I don’t want to be negative, but I did see that movie about the guy who invented the intermittent windshield wiper, who brought his idea straight to you and you stole it, basically ruining his life.
Look, we’ve all done things we’re not proud of. And, besides, that was the old Ford Motor Company.
The new Ford Motor Company has found its Focus, created its Fusion, made its Escape, and gained its Edge. Pretty good, hah? And, there’s a lot more where that came from.
I’ll be waiting for your call. Oh…and, red, if possible.