Thursday, May 04, 2006

Better Cars, Not Better Advertising

Ford Motor Company is rolling out a desperate “do or die” advertising campaign. It’s been steadily losing national market share over the past decade or more, and now it’s going to target “values, attitude, and emotion” more than it does specific demographic groups to try to appeal to a broader range and to larger numbers of the American public fed up with inferior domestic vehicles. Its “Bold Moves” campaign features American Idol and Grammy-winner Kelly Clarkson singing her new song “Go.”

I have a different suggestion. Why not make better vehicles? Instead of making unreliable, cheap looking, fuel-guzzling crap-on-wheels, why not design and sell vehicles in all the major categories that at least equal the best of the Japanese manufacturers in reliability, durability, safety, performance, fuel-economy, aesthetics, and quality of materials and construction, and then back them with the best warranties and customer service in the business? Even if Ford has to charge more than its overseas competitors to succeed, I’d pay more, significantly more to buy a DOMESTIC vehicle where QUALITY of product and service is the overriding priority, and I strongly suspect that a great many other people would too. What I WON’T do is be suckered by advertising lies such as “Quality is Job 1” or empty gimmicks such as pop-singing American idols into buying another inferior Ford, and I hope the American public won’t be either.

My wife and I may be in the market for a minivan in a few years. So, why doesn’t Ford make one at least as good as the Honda Odyssey or Toyota Sienna and more fuel-efficient than either, and back it with a warranty far better than either? If Ford does that, we’ll buy one. If it doesn’t, forget it. The lousy Freestar is not an option. And if gas prices go so high that a minivan is out of the question, let Ford come out with something at least as good in every important respect as the Honda Civic or Accord or Toyota Prius and give it a better warranty, and we’ll buy it. Hell, I might buy a Focus Wagon now if, in addition to its superior driving dynamics and practicality, it were as reliable and durable as a Civic instead of the cheap-looking piece of rolling recalls and premature obsolescence that it is.

Come on, Ford. Give the American public and the world superior quality, warranties, and service, and you won’t need Kelly Clarkson to sell your vehicles. They’ll sell themselves, and you will thrive instead of reeling on the brink of collapse.

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