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U.S.A.:Ford pitches F-150 to minority consumers

Company is spending record amount to reach ethnic groups

By Marty Bernstein
Automotive News / September 15, 2003

DETROIT - Ford Division says it will spend heavily to pitch the redesigned F-150 pickup to minority shoppers.

"Minorities - Hispanics, African Americans and Asians - in many of our key truck markets constitute the majority of the population of that city," says Francisco Codina, head of Ford Motor Co.'s customer service division. "And we've seen double-digit growth in multicultural markets over the past three years."

While minority ad budgets were not divulged, Ford says it is spending more on the new F-150 minority advertising than it has ever spent on multicultural advertising. The $100 million-plus campaign started in the last week of August.

"Starting with the F-150, every new model we introduce will have a major minority advertising and marketing communications program that will launch simultaneously with the main campaign," says Rich Stoddart, Ford Division marketing communications manager. "Until now, it's lagged behind. Multicultural advertising is not a hobby job or assignment with Ford anymore - it's getting the attention it deserves."

Growing market

Ford uses three agencies to create minority advertising: Zubi of Miami for Hispanic, Uniworld of New York for black and PanCom in Los Angeles for Asian.

The Hispanic component of the campaign is the most ambitious, in part due to the need for Spanish communications and the impressive growth of the market.

"The Hispanic market has specific customs, mores, family values and attitudes that are reflected in our Hispanic communications," says Codina, a naturalized American of Cuban descent. "We're dedicated to becoming part of this group's community."

An 8-step program

To reach the growing Hispanic market, Ford has created an eight-step program for the F-150.

1. Product placement in TV programs to boost the brand image.

2. Network TV spots for volume vehicles.

3. Spot TV to move region-specific vehicles.

4. Spot radio to also move specific vehicles.

5. Magazine for new product introductions.

6. Internet sites in Spanish with product and dealer information on new products.

7. Direct mail and other personalized communications to create favorable consumer attitudes.

8. Public relations to build the truck's image in Hispanic communities.

Ford is sponsoring and participating in several Spanish language TV programs that are among the top in ratings.

These include "Cine Ford," a movie of the week program; several music and entertainment shows similar to MTV, VH1 and E! The Entertainment Network; a new sports summary program similar to "SportsCenter" on

ESPN called "Contracto Deportivo Ford;" and "Sabbado Giganti," a combination game, entertainment and interview program with the biggest Hispanic audience in the world.

In its Hispanic advertising for the F-150, Ford has mounted a major effort in every medium. The theme line from the English campaign remains the same, but the Ford truck tag line "Built Ford Tough" has been revised for Spanish speaking buyers to "The Maximum Expression of Toughness."

For Hispanic TV, Zubi created and produced a 30-second commercial called "Earn The Right," in which classic and current F-150 trucks drive through mud, fields and forest to assemble at the base of a cliff.

The redesigned model drives onto the cliff as all the other trucks below bow in its presence. The English translation of the voiceover is, "Only one truck was born stronger, smarter, more capable, and tougher to the core. Only one truck earned the right to be the next Ford F-150. Ford ... The Maximum Expression of Toughness."

Spanish Web site

Six print ads in English were used to highlight product attributes, but in the Spanish versions all six elements were combined into one for maximum impact.

Another key element in the Hispanic minority campaign is the use of a Ford Spanish language Web site called Fordenespanol.com to capture, what Forrester Research calls the fastest growing minority market on the Web.

Under Codina's direction every Ford dealer with Spanish-speaking customers has all service and repair documents, guides, CDs, books and pamphlets in Spanish.

Says Codina: "It was essential our dealers are able to communicate with their customers in Spanish and that customers felt comfortable in describing their problems to the service manager or technician in their native language. It completes our need to have a total communications program in Spanish."

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