US:Ford to suggest BP fuel
Ford to suggest BP fuel
Carmaker, refiner put promo on caps
BY JAMIE BUTTERS
FREE PRESS BUSINESS WRITER
Ford Motor Co. and oil giant BP are trying to get their marketing message under your skin -- or at least under the skin of your car.
Gas caps on almost all Ford brand vehicles sold in the United States, starting with the 2006 model year, will bear the message "Ford recommends BP," the companies said Friday.
It has been standard since the days of Standard Oil (before it became Amoco and was acquired by BP in 1998) for automakers to recommend specific weights of oil and levels of octane in the gasoline, or petrol, as it had been peddled by British Petroleum.
But Ford and BP say this is the first time an automaker has touted a particular energy company or brand of fuel in the United States.
This could be because all gasoline is pretty much the same and car companies didn't want to confuse or mislead their customers.
Or perhaps the automakers didn't want to risk turning off consumers who live in areas where other oil companies are popular. (In some cases, cars and trucks will be available without the BP caps, said spokeswoman Lydia Cisaruk.)
But Ford is willing to take its chances with green partner BP, which plans to build hydrogen filling stations in Ann Arbor and two other cities for Ford's fuel-cell vehicle pilot project that is partially funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.
Spokespeople would not say whether BP is paying cash for the message placement or whether it is a form of payment for the hydrogen stations.
A similar program started last year in Europe, where motor oil is often promoted with cap messages, apparently without disturbance.
(BP says the success of that program sparked the U.S. effort, though it would provide no supporting data.)
The caps are made by Stant Manufacturing, which made the ornamental radiator cap for Henry Ford's 1928 Model A.
But with such a subtle marketing effort, one risk is that the message stays out of sight, out of mind.
Ford dealer Ken Blanton in Ashland, Ky., near a Marathon Ashland Petroleum refinery, said he doubts the special caps would make much of a difference for either company.
"I don't know if people would pay attention to that, anyway."
BRANDING WITH THE BLUE OVAL
The Ford brand has used various marketing partners in different situations.
Dell computers and Home Depot: sales promotions.
Harley-Davidson, Eddie Bauer: special-edition vehicles.
BP: recommended energy company, jointly developing fluids, fuels and lubricants that "benefit the customer as well as the environment."
My first car was a 67 Mustang Coupe, 2nd one was a 67 Cougar XR-7, 3rd one was a 66 Mustang Coupe. Why did I get rid of these cars for ? I know why, because I'm stupid, stupid, stupid.
My next Ford.....