This initiative to broaden the appeal of the Blue Oval brand goes hand-in-glove with the recently-announced entry of the Mustang into the Australian Supercars series and the relaunch of the Ford Performance brand.
Other initiatives include a five-year warranty across the entire range of Ford vehicles.
Speaking to GoAutoNews Premium at the local launch of the facelifted V8 Mustang last week, Ford Australia marketing manager Danni Winter said the brand had recently taken steps to modernise itself.
Ms Winter said the steps were “part of a broader strategy here in Australia”.
“We’ve got new-look marketing campaign efforts this year (with) all-new assets across our entire range of vehicles (designed) to appeal to a broader Australian consumer.
She said the new strategy made Ford a company that was “more modern and contemporary than perhaps the Ford of the past”.
This includes the launch of Ford Australia’s 2nd Car pilot program that gives Escape and Ranger owners access to a Mustang muscle car for up to two weeks.
As part of the Ford refresh the company is rolling out a new-look corporate identity treatment across all retail sites. Last year, Bayford Ford Epping became the first dealer site to receive the new look.
“Our upgrade in the stores have been part of the continual brand refresh. We haven’t had a program out to do that for a few years, so that’s just part of a cycle plan of actions. So that’s just continuing to evolve,” she said.
Ms Winter said the upgraded warranty, which moved from three years/100,000km to five years/unlimited kilometres, was a direct response to customer desires.
“The five-year warranty has always been in our plans and our expanding portfolio of aftercare options. We launched back in 2014 free loan car (with service), we’ve done map car updates, a range of initiatives to deliver on consumer wants so I think the five-year warranty was a natural stepping stone for us.”
When asked by GoAutoNews Premium whether Ford would consider introducing a seven-year warranty to match Kia’s offering – the longest warranty for any mainstream brand – Ms Winter said Ford’s peace-of-mind period was unique in that there are no exclusions.
“I certainly think we’re amongst the leaders in terms of what our offering is; unlimited kilometres, five years, no buyer type exceptions (and) no commercial exceptions. I think we’ve provided a really clear proposition to the market to really meet what customers are looking for,” she said.
“I think the Kia offering is unique to them, I’m not going to make comments on their offering, I think ours is very comprehensive and certainly amongst the best in the market … but importantly no exceptions, no buyer types, you’re not excluded if you are a rental customer, you’re not excluded if you are a government customer, and importantly, you’re not excluded if you are a commercial or heavy use customer.
“I don’t know why those consumers would receive something different in the market. So I think we’ve provided a really simple customer proposition that’s available to everyone.”
Meanwhile, Ford Australia brand communications manager Jasmine Mobarek was quick to downplay the idea that the new marketing push was being done to separate the Ford of today from its local manufacturing days.
“Manufacturing closure happened, and it had to happen,” she said.
“So as a business, we segregated that, we wanted to do that with dignity and respect and manage that – I don’t want to say in a box – but really focus our energy and attention there, while the rest of the business was getting on with ‘what does the transformation plan look like; what do we do today to set ourselves up for tomorrow and the future?’
“Manufacturing was a point in time that needed to be managed with dignity and respect and I think we fulfilled that.”
“We are (now) responding and diversifying based on our product portfolio and our consumer base.”
Ms Winter added that the current initiatives that feature television commercials and a social media push were years in the making and were designed around building the Blue Oval brand.
“It’s been an orchestrated plan. We brought back Ford Performance brand, a suite of new products, excited to re-enter Supercars, which is fantastic too.
“They have all been long plans in the making. They’re not decisions you make in four weeks.
“We have been working on those for several years and really bringing them to the market at the right time when it’s appropriate to the business (and) when it is supportive of our broader plan,” she said.
“I’m always working on a lot of initiatives to ensure that we are competitive in the market, modern, relevant and, importantly, have a brand that consumers desire.
“I mean ultimately our outcome is that we have strong appeal, (but) I don’t think necessarily you will see that on the sales charts.
“We want to be happy with the diversity of the products that we offer, and I think we’re moving forward with a fantastic new offering with all the launches that we have in the second half this year, and we will continue to grow and evolve. But we’re focused on our own strategy, not on anyone else’s position.”
Ford Australia has just launched its refreshed V8-powered Mustang into local showrooms, while the 2.3-litre turbo-petrol EcoBoost version is due in September.
Also in the pipeline is the facelifted Everest large SUV and Ranger pick-up range, which includes the flagship $74,990 before on-roads Ranger Raptor.
Finally, Ford will introduce a new SUV nameplate into its line-up before year’s end in the form the Endura crossover that is expected to sit above the Escape, but below the Everest in size and pricing.
By Tung Nguyen