Fords in the House

Ford American Idol House PartyThe conventional wisdom around Motown these days is that of the domestic vehicle manufacturers, Ford Motor Company—commonly referred to by some denizens of Detroit as “Fords” and it is not clear whether that is supposed to be possessive case (as in “the company owned by the Ford family,” plural (as in “we build a lot of them”) or simply a bizarre case where someone who works in Dearborn suddenly manifests an accent that is more commonly heard in Minneapolis—is in the best shape.

At least unlike Chrysler it is not having its assets and liabilities assessed by a judge, and unlike General Motors, it isn’t teetering on the brink of some ignominious abyss. But while FoMoCo may be in “better shape,” that’s not the same as saying “good shape.” That is, while a Big Mac may be better for the conditions of your arteries and waist line than a Double Whopper with Cheese, that is not to say that it is good for you.

A question of the long-term viability of Ford can be raised by a marketing ploy it just executed. It hooked up with “a leading consumer activation and experiential marketing services company,” House Party, to hold the “Ford American Idol House Party.” This variant on a Tupperware or sex toys in-home event was arranged at 1,000 houses, and the hosts received packages including:

• Tote bags

• Napkins, coasters, plates, and cups with the Ford logo

• Oval and car-shaped cookie cutters

• Slingbags

• Blue and white balloons with the Ford logo

• Notepads

• American Idol pens

• Ford Fusion banners

• A special DVD with an ex-Idol and information about the Ford Fusion

And those hosts who made arrangements had a Ford Fusion brought to their house.

“By adding House Party to our marketing mix, we are able to extend our message and create meaningful grassroots engagements by encouraging consumers to experience our product line-up in a fun environment with their friends,” claimed Connie Fontaine, Ford Brand Content and Alliance Manager.

Now let’s get this right. A gang of people all shouting at a TV, hailing or decrying Adam and Kris, stuffing their faces with cookies resembling a Ford logo, writing notes, and, quite possibly, slipping into the bathroom to stuff their tote and/or slingbags with whatever pharmaceutical or diet products that may be in the medicine cabinet. And somehow these people are supposed to care about a perfectly adequate if not particularly amazing midsize sedan?

How many Cheetos stains do you suppose were on the upholstery of those Fusions? How many of those houses were what’s known as “manufactured”? How many of the attendees were “qualified consumer advocates” versus 15-year-old girls? How many Double Whoppers with Cheese were consumed?

Ford may not have asked Washington for a bailout yet, but if they keep this up, chances are it won’t be long.

Now as for the Oscar Mayer-sponsored Top Tasting Dog House Party. . .that’s a party!

5 thoughts on “Fords in the House”

  1. You’re forgetting the Idiot Factor, i.e. people are idiots. Stand on the corner for 20 minutes and count morons, and then tell me this won’t work as well as any barely-transparent marketing ploy.

    FoMoCo went through the same kind of restructuring that GM and Chrysler are now, only they had the good sense to do it 6 years ago, when times were good. So give them credit (preferably Ford Motor Credit) for being either smart or lucky, take your pick.

    As for American Idiot (er, Idol), there’s another example of a classic American business model-stampede the herd and pick off the strays.

  2. This kind of reminds me of (I think it was featured in “Roger & Me”) the idea of creating a hokey car-culture theme park in beautiful downtown Flint(?) to market the region to tourists. You know, to give displaced auto workers jobs. Or something…

    Flint. Tourists. Fail.

  3. NY Times: “If only Ford could make and sell its cars as well as “American Idol” makes promotional videos to sell its sponsor, the economy might be in better shape.”

  4. Jude, I went to Auto World as a kid. One comment I clearly recall from my dad when we happened upon the automatronic “host” of the joint was, “Nice, meet the robot who just took your job.”

  5. Ford couldn’t sell water in the desert, and this promotion only proves why: Continually aligning itself with the basest crap that has nothing to do with cars or trucks only further tarnishes the image of a once great name.

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