The performance of the three major US automakers over the past 12-18 months sees the companies arranged neatly into the good, the bad and the ugly. And considering that all of them were confronting the same extreme marketplace conditions, itâ€™s more than interesting to see how the three are coping.
In reverse order, Chrysler wins the â€śuglyâ€ť award. Current sales trends are horrible and much is hanging on the Sergio Marchionne plan for revitalizing the company. But with momentum lost, dealers in disarray and a shortage of new fuel-efficient models, the immediate future looks grim for Chrysler.
GM wins the â€śbadâ€ť award but at least they avoided the ugly space. The company does seem to be reinvigorated and one senses focus and determination in the new management team. The model line up is improved and the company, despite its horrible performance in 2008 and early 2009 still seems to resonate positively in the minds of the American consumer.
Which leaves us with Ford â€“ the winner of the â€śgoodâ€ť award. And in many ways, this appears to be the only good thing to emerge from the wreckage of Detroit. One feels confidence emanating from Ford, partly driven by the fact that they avoided having to borrow money from the government and partly driven by the fact that they are profitable. So financially, they have a spring in their step.
But actually the Ford performance goes far deeper than just good housekeeping. It seems to have better early warning systems than its competitors. It started pruning costs earlier. It was quicker off the mark with an appropriate model line-up (think Fusion, Focus and Fiesta) for the new frugal consumer. Its marketing is consistently more relevant and more confident. And importantly, itâ€™s just more proactive and purposeful in the area of innovation across a number of fronts. All in all it adds up to a very impressive story.
Here are a couple of examples from the new ad campaign, featuring real Ford drivers:
Given this performance, we should be starting to applaud the leadership of Alan Mulally who has now been in the driving seat at Ford for two years. True, success in the auto industry is often short-lived but when judging the company against the performance of its closest rivals, in tough but identical trading conditions, I feel that Ford and Mulally deserve the applause. The company is obviously enjoying its success and any good news coming out of the US auto industry needs to be celebrated.
Simon WilliamsTweet this | Tags: advertising, auto industry, brand, Ford, marketing