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"The Times They Are A-changin". . . Fords Motto: No Longer Built Tough?

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On: Sat, May 8, 2010 at 12:27PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

"The Times They Are A-changin". . . Fords Motto: No Longer Built Tough?

“The times they are a-changin”; the words from the popular Bob Dylan song come to mind as we take a look at what is happening in the auto world today. Gas guzzlers are looking like they may become obsolete in the near future, at least at Ford, that is, as they prepare to launch the Ford Fiesta this summer (the first time the sub-compact car has been offered since the 80s).

The launch of the Fiesta is another example of Ford’s effort to change the company's image from a top-seller of big trucks (historically famous for the F-150 and SUVs, such as the Ford Explorer) to an automaker that designs high-quality fuel-efficient cars. This summer’s plan to re-introduce the Fiesta starts the evolution as Ford prepares to promote its first sub-compact vehicle in over a decade.

According to one Ford dealership general manager, the target buyer for this car is younger than the average buyer for Ford vehicles has been. Ford has decided to provide more product training than usual because it is targeting young buyers who are computer and social network-savvy buyers such as the “Millennials,” those born from 1980–1995.

Paul Anderson, Ford’s small-car marketing manager, said Ford rarely starts training dealerships so far in advance of the actual launch of a new model as it has with the Fiesta. Special training includes teaching employees how to effectively reach young buyers through social-media sites, such as Facebook and YouTube. The training will also educate sales professionals and dealers about the car’s unique features and options, like the affordable trendy body panel graphics, starting at only $150.

One YouTube video presents the Fiesta in collaboration with American Idol; the top twelve American Idol contestants were invited to team up with Ford’s designers to develop their own unique versions of the Fiesta hatchback (one for each A.I. contestant, so 12 in all). Idol fans were invited to enter the Ford Music Video Challenge that is offered one time per week between March 17th and May 21st of 2010 for an opportunity to win one of the vehicles, plus a trip to the set of the Ford Music video shoot. Grand Prize winners will receive a package including a Fiesta of their choice (to select from one of the twelve unique designs), and a ticket to the finale.

For younger buyers, personalization of their vehicle is top priority, and Ford is certainly stepping up to the plate to provide exactly what the “Millennials” really want. If the automobile market continues to change as rapidly as it has in the past year, these young buyers will surely be the drivers of all-electric, or even hydrogen-powered vehicles of the future. It seems that Ford took the advice of Robert Zimmerman when he sang, “You better start swimmin’ or you'll sink like a stone, for the times they are a-changin.”


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