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Ford’s CMO On Building A Social And Product-Driven Brand

Ford’s head of marketing Jim Farley talks about the company’s commitment to social media and content and the essential cultural shift that paved the way for a comeback.

Ford has been one of the consistently cited examples of a post-meltdown turnaround story–a company that came back from near-oblivion to reassert itself as an alpha American manufacturer and brand.

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The comeback can be considered the result of some uncompromising decisions by Alan Mulally, who became the CEO of Ford in 2006 (you can read about Mulally’s approach to the turnaround in a previous Co.Create piece). Among those institutional shifts: the seemingly obvious step of making cars that people wanted to buy.

That product-centric philosophy is manifest in the newly launched Ford Fusion, one of the automaker’s most important and interesting American cars in years.

The company’s approach to launching the Fusion illustrates another significant part of the Ford story–the degree to which the brand has embraced social media and content in its marketing M.O.

Ford is introducing the Fusion via “Random Acts of Fusion,” a participatory, content-driven campaign starring Ryan Seacrest and Joel McHale.
The brand is frequently mentioned among the most social marketers. Ford broke ground with the 2009 launch of the Fiesta Movement, which saw the company give the vehicles to 100 influencers who created and spread content about their experiences, and in 2010 launched the Ford Explorer on Facebook. At the same time, the company has gone all-in on brand content. Ford has produced numerous major content-driven initiatives over the past few years, from partnering with Ken Block on an instantly viral Gymkhana video to producing the Hulu-based show Focus Rally: America and the primetime TV show, Escape Routes and tie-ins with shows like Alcatraz.

We spoke to Ford head of marketing Jim Farley at the New York Auto Show earlier this year about the changes in Ford’s culture, its commitment to social media and content and the launch of the Fusion. See the video interview, in installments, in the slide show above.


About the author

Teressa Iezzi is the editor of Co.Create. She was previously the editor of Advertising Age’s Creativity, covering all things creative in the brand world.

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