Ford Motor Company Proposal


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A proposal about the communications, finances, and advertising at Ford Motor Company.

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Ford Motor Company Proposal

  1. 1. Proposal To: Ford Motor Company P.O. Box 6248 Dearborn, MI 48126 Submitted By: Patricia Langenau Heather Mueller 845.242.1921 240.506.3733 Scott Vollmin 201.739.8731 Title: Vision Consulting: A Strategic Communication Plan For Ford Motor Company Date Submitted: March 23, 2009 Principle Investigators: Patricia Langenau, Heather Mueller, Scott Vollmin Signed: Principle Investigators: Authorizing Official: _________________________ Amy Becker-George Ithaca College __________________________ 376 Roy H. Park School of Communications Patricia Langenau Ithaca, NY 14950 Director of Public Relations ___________________________ Heather Mueller Financial Manager ___________________________ Scott Vollmin Director of Corporate Advertising ___________________________
  2. 2. Vision Consulting: Ford Motor Company 2 TABLE OF CONTENTS Executive Summary.........................................................................1 Vision Consulting ............................................................................1 Ford Motor Company’s Current Situation ...................................2 Ford Motor Company’s Organizational Structure ......................6 Ford Motor Company’s Identity ....................................................7 What Ford Motor Company Is Doing Correctly ..........................8 Vision Consulting’s Strategic Plan For Ford Motor Company...10 Vision Consulting Team ..................................................................12 Budget Description...........................................................................14 Conclusion ........................................................................................14
  3. 3. Vision Consulting: Ford Motor Company 3 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Ford Motor Company began with Henry Ford in October, 1908 with the introduction of the Model T (Ford Motor Company, 2009). In 1913, the famous Ford assembly line began mass producing the popular vehicle. The Model T is still recognized today as having a major impact on human history because it changed the way people viewed transportation (Ford Motor Company, 2009). Today, Ford is the second-largest automobile company in the world, representing a $164 billion multinational business empire (Ford Motor Company, 2009). Known primarily as an automobile manufacturer, Ford also has Ford Credit, which generates more than $3 billion in income, as well as owning The Hertz Corporation, the largest automobile rental company in the world (Ford Motor Company, 2009). The company manufactures vehicles under the names Ford, Lincoln, Mercury, Jaguar, Volvo, Land Rover, and Aston Martin (Ford Motor Company, 2009). Although a major component of American history, Ford Motor Company’s image is experiencing a downfall. The purpose of this proposal is to explain how working collaboratively with Vision Consulting to successfully adopt and implement our strategic plan, will result in Ford’s image being saved and rejuvenated. VISION CONSULTING Mission: Vision Consulting is an independent communications consulting company that provides expert communications consulting services to businesses worldwide. We provide our customers with leading, innovative, and revolutionary solutions, strategies and guidance to enhance their performance in marketing and advertising. To accomplish this, we have assembled a team of professionals to address clients’ issues accurately, responsively, and comprehensively.
  4. 4. Vision Consulting: Ford Motor Company 4 Vision: To become the most successful and respected communication consulting company worldwide. Values: Above all, we value our customers. In order to serve them effectively, we uphold to the following values:  Taking responsibility for one’s own work  Using appropriate business conduct  Treating business partners and other stakeholders with respect By promoting a pleasant, challenging and open environment and calling upon the capabilities, creativity, drive and dedication of all involved, we hope to create a rewarding and productive synergetic eco-system from which all stakeholders can benefit. These values guide our decisions as we create strategic plans to help our clients reach their goals. FORD MOTOR COMPANY’S CURRENT SITUATION Our research has illustrated that members of all of Ford’s constituencies are currently unhappy with Ford. Consequently, the Ford image has suffered. Image is how a company is viewed by its constituencies and it can vary between each (Argenti, 2007, p. 66) . These constituencies include: • Investors • Customers • Employees • Communities
  5. 5. Vision Consulting: Ford Motor Company 5 There are many causes to Ford’s image problem. One cause is that Americans have communicated that they prefer foreign cars, in particular, cars made of Asian and German auto makers (Amend, 2008, p. 1). As stated by journalist James Amend, “Rising gasoline Prices [have] sparked a market shift away from trucks and SUVs, to smaller, thriftier cars and cross/utility vehicles” (Amend, 2008, p. 1). Although Ford has tried to communicate a commitment to the environment, this message is not effective when twelve of its eighteen vehicles are either trucks or SUVs. Overall, research has found that Americans actually, “want Detroit’s car companies to suffer for the mistakes they made,” ( Halliday, 2009, p. 2). Investors are also unhappy with Ford. Shares have fallen more than fifty percent since the start of 2005 illustrating that investors do not have confidence in the company (Richardson, 2006). The company has been experiencing financial losses since 1999. In 2006 the company was worth half of what it was in 2001: $14 billion (Kiley & Welch, 2006, p. 1). Like employees, investors are not impressed with Ford’s constant management turnaround and are frustrated with its monstrous debt. Lastly, communities and employees are frustrated with Ford. As stated by one employee in 2006, “We’re four years unto fixing it already, and it be three more years til we see daylight. Who ever heard of a seven-year turnaround plan?” (Kiley & Welch, 2006, p. 2). Employees feel that Ford continuously presents plans to fix its situation but never follows through. While these plans are in action, and things are supposed to be getting better, employees are being laid-off. As stated by Kiley and Welch, “What outsiders can’t detect is the depth of employee despair, much of which stems from internal problems such as managerial churn and constant strategy changes.” (Kiley & Welch, 2006, p. 2). Having four different heads of North American operations in four years is evidence of this statement (Kiley & Welch, 2006, p. 2). Not only does the cycle of
  6. 6. Vision Consulting: Ford Motor Company 6 executives convey a message of disvalue to employees, it has also cost the company money and slowed its turnaround. Employees are expressing extreme distaste for the Ford working environment. A 20-year employee was quoted stating, “I like the atmosphere here better than I like work these days,” in reference to a hamburger restaurant where he liked to eat (Kiley & Welch, 2006, p. 1). Overall, Ford’s constituencies have determined a negative image for the company and it is imperative that the image be repaired if the company is to recover from its current situation. FORD MOTOR COMPANY’S ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE Ford Motor Company has a formal organizational structure that is centralized since all the departments are “under one senior officer at headquarters” (Argenti, 2007, p. 44). The structure of the company directs all communication to the upper management, Chairman William Ford and President and CEO Alan Mulally. The functions within the company are media relations, marketing communications, internal communications, investor relations, government relations and corporate social responsibility (Appendix A). Some key functions are missing from the structure, or have been combined with other functions. The important functions that do not have a department are reputation management, corporate advertising and advocacy, and crisis management. These functions are key to clear and organized communication and Ford should create new departments for the missing functions. In addition, Ford should form direct connections between functions to allow for better internal communication. Ford’s current structure potentially allows for direct and consistent communication, however this is not the case since the structure is unorganized. Employees lower down on the organization never speak directly with Mr. Ford or Mr. Mulally, so they feel neglected and angry. There should be a direct line to William Ford and Alan Mulally to allow for open communication. Ford
  7. 7. Vision Consulting: Ford Motor Company 7 should decentralize its’ structure because it would “assure quality, consistency, and coordination of messages across the board” as well as improve employee’s image of the company, as well as other constituencies images of the company (Argenti , 2007, p. 45). Decentralized communication is better for larger global companies that are involved in many activities because it allows for flexible communication and constant interaction with senior management to keep communication clear. Decentralization is also useful in times of economic uncertainty because it forces the “communications department to handle activities they would generally outsource to a full-time PR agency” which keeps Ford employees focused on their communication functions (Argenti, 2007, p. 45). If Ford changed the organizational structure of the company to a more decentralized structure, it would help to improve all internal and external communication. Overall, Ford is trying to communicate to each constituency through specific departments but these departments are not united under a corporate communication leader who has access to the CEO (Appendix B). Furthermore, some vital functions are missing resulting in some constituencies receiving little or no communication. In order for its constituencies to be reached effectively, structural change must occur and key functions must be added. FORD MOTOR COMAPANY’S IDENTITY Ford does not see itself as its constituencies see it. Ford Motor Company’s mission statement states that Ford is, “a global family with a proud heritage, passionately committed to providing personal mobility for people around the world, [and] anticipates consumer needs and delivers outstanding products and services that improve people's lives” (Marister, 2009). The company has additional values that are an important part of its strategy and identity. Ford, “business is driven by [its] consumer focus, creativity, resourcefulness, and entrepreneurial spirit. [It is] an inspired, diverse team. [Ford] respect(s) and value(s) everyone's contribution.
  8. 8. Vision Consulting: Ford Motor Company 8 The health and safety of [its] people are paramount. [Ford is] a leader in environmental responsibility….. [Ford] makes a positive contribution to society,” (Marister, 2009). After comparing Ford’s image and identity, the following central communicative problems were discovered:  Ford is not communicating effectively with its constituencies  Ford’s image is not congruent with its identity  Ford has not adapted to the changing environment WHAT FORD MOTOR COMPANY IS DOING CORRECTLY Although Ford faces numerous communication challenges and has made poor communication decisions in the past, it is important to acknowledge what the company is doing correctly. The company has been successful in allocating the appropriate funds for research and development. This has allowed Ford to be one of the leaders in developing new technologies. In regards to technology Ford led the charge on automobile connectivity and voice communication with the introduction of its SYNC© technology. SYNC© provides the user with hands-on connectivity and voice activated control (How Ford Sync Works, 2007). HowStuffWorks writer Ed Piotrowski explains, “Ford partnered with Microsoft to create Sync as a way for vehicle owners to stay connected with their cell phones and digital music players. Instead of needing separate connections for these devices, Sync works as an all-in-one solution that can be updated as new phones and players are released. Ford Sync looks to provide a simpler, one-stop-shop for connection and use of cell phones and MP3 players,” (How Ford Sync Works, 2007). Coupled with the connectivity of these devices is the voice-activation feature, which allows the user to “speak” with the vehicle through voice commands and Bluetooth technology.
  9. 9. Vision Consulting: Ford Motor Company 9 Ford also included new ignition technology in the Lincoln MKS. Lincoln is a luxury division of the Ford Motor Company, and therefore has also seen improvements in vehicular technology. The 2009 Lincoln MKS’s tag line is “Boot Up. Lift Off”. This is a direct reference to the ignition technology in the vehicle, which allows the user to start the car with the push of a button (Lincoln MKS, 2009). To enter the car, the user can use the SECURICODE© invisible touch screen. The numbers on the keypad light up when touched and the car can be opened with the correct key code (Lincoln MKS, 2009). The user can then use the push-button startup, never actually requiring the use of a car key. The company describes the experience by claiming that, “Starships don’t need keys” and that “Keys are yesterday” (Lincoln MKS, 2009). Clearly, the company has aimed to market these vehicles as “technologically superior” and have used technology as a direct selling point. Ford has also been effective in creating sustainable vehicles and adopting alternative fuels. Sustainability has been a large focus of the Ford Motor Company. CEO Alan Mullaly’s keynote speech at the LA Auto Show in November 2007 was a testament to this. Ford has recently unveiled new “EcoBoost” engine technology, which will be used in half a million Ford vehicles annually (Ford Announces New Ecoboost Technology, 2008). According to the company, EcoBoost is a combination of direct injection and turbo-charging, boosting four and six cylinder engines. With direct injection, fuel is injected into each cylinder of an engine in small, precise amounts (Ford Announces New Ecoboost Technology, 2008). Compared to conventional port injection, direct injection produces a cooler, denser charge, delivering higher fuel economy and performance. This will reportedly increase fuel economy by up to 20 percent (Ford Announces New Ecoboost Technology, 2008). The EcoBoost technology is an example of Ford’s interest in sustainability and the environment of its constituencies.
  10. 10. Vision Consulting: Ford Motor Company 10 In order for Ford to recover from its current situation, it is imperative that the company highlights what it is doing correctly and communicates this to each constituency. VISION CONSULTING’S STRATEGIC PLAN FOR FORD MOTOR COMPANY Visions Consulting’s plan for Ford Motor Company encompasses a variety of strategic communication endeavors aimed at bringing consistency between Ford’s identity and image. Transparency is vital to communications resulting in positive response. With this in mind, the plan has three main objectives: 1. Communicate the positive things Ford is doing to all constituencies 2. Create and communicate individualized messages to each constituency 3. Communicate a dedication to financial recovery, its communities, and its employees We have established a one-year campaign to achieve the objectives above (Appendix C). The first part of the campaign is a kick-off event titled, “Let Ford Feed You”. This event invites local community members, Ford owners, and employees to a weekend celebration where food will be provided for free. One may argue that providing free food will not help Ford’s ever- growing debt. However, Vision Consulting believes that the messages this event will communicate will result in greater sales. Thus, curbing the debt with greater profits and community loyalty. The event targets employees, community members, and Ford customers because they are primary constituents. Employees and community members are frustrated due to layoffs and they feel that Ford is abandoning them during a hard economic time. “Let Ford Feed You” is intended to communicate a commitment to these constituents. In essence, these constituents make up the “Ford Family” that Ford speaks to in its mission statement. In hard economic times, Ford needs to communicate that it does not want its “family members” to suffer. Holding an event such as
  11. 11. Vision Consulting: Ford Motor Company 11 this allows people to celebrate Ford. Not only will the event shine a positive light on the company, but it will also bring an exclusive, family-like feel to the organization since it is an invite-only event. Lastly, one-third of Detroit’s 918, 849 citizens live below the poverty line (Walsh, 2005). This fact allows us to assume that “Let Ford Feed You” would have a high attendance rate and be appreciated. This event will be advertised in local newspapers through press releases, and on through the blogs and the website we plan to establish (Appendixes D & E). Personal invitations will also be sent out. The event and campaign progress will also be communicated through the employee newsletter (Appendix F). These channels have been chosen because they are local and personal in matching the feel of the event. Vision Consulting will work with Ford to ensure that the event is cost effective, well organized, and fun for attendees. We believe that a casual, barbeque style event would be the most effective. However, we are willing to discuss ideas, concerns, and options. The second stage of our campaign is advertising. The same messages communicated at the “Let Ford Feed You” event will be communicated in the ad campaign. The ad messages will target both current and prospective customers and investors. These advertisements will stress a commitment to affordable and sustainable vehicles, technological advancements and innovation, and to employees and community. The ads focusing on sustainable vehicles will communicate quality and care for the environment. It is important that sustainability does not sacrifice the current identity of Ford vehicles. For example, trucks should still be “Ford Tough” and Lincolns should still be luxurious (Appendix G). The other message we want to focus on is Ford’s commitment to, and innovations in the field of technology. One reason customers have expressed a greater interest in foreign cars, such
  12. 12. Vision Consulting: Ford Motor Company 12 as Toyota, is that they feel foreign vehicles are more reliable and innovative. Ford needs to communicate the technologies that it has not only embraced but that it has created (See Appendix H). Although indirectly, both of these ads will communicate to investors that there is investment-value in Ford. Lastly, we have created a website to support this campaign (Appendix I). The purpose of the website is to reinforce the transparent nature of Fords communications during its recovery. Essentially, the website would be added to Ford’s current website, as an augmentation to the current structure and content. In order to communicate effectively to each constituency, each constituency needs its own Blog. These Blogs will be updated bi-weekly by the CEO with updates, facts, and honesty. The website will also help advertise the “Let Ford Feed You” event as well as its new advertisements and its low-cost sustainable vehicles. A timeline and/or list of goals and objectives may also be present for viewers. This would allow constituents to see how and when goals are being met. As a result, they may feel content when a goal is accomplished and a positive feeling will be associated with the company. VISION CONSULTING TEAM Vision Consulting is comprised of well-trained, experienced, creative, and motivated individuals that want to help companies see financial advances as a result of strategic communication. A special team has been established for Ford Motor Company based on what the company needs. Patricia Langenau: Public Relations Director With Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Management, and Design from the Roy H. Park School of Communications at Ithaca College, Trish has studied and honed her communication skills. She is a strategist who works tirelessly to help her clients reach her goals. While working for State Farm Insurance Trish created a training guide to help other employees master computer programs. This experience illustrates her ability to understand an
  13. 13. Vision Consulting: Ford Motor Company 13 audience and communicate to them effectively. In her spare time Trish enjoys boating, listening to music, and running. Heather Muller: Financial Manager/Public Relations Co-Director Heather handles the budgets for the clients of Vision Consulting. She evaluates the clients’ funds and decides how to divide the budget, as well as handling Vision Consulting financial concerns. She helps to manage the flow of information between the clients company and the public as well. Heather obtained her bachelors degree in Communication, Management and Design with a concentration in Strategic Communication from Ithaca College. She was the treasurer for a student run organization called Created Equal, which focuses on social justice and equality. She was responsible for managing budgets, requesting funds, and organizing receipts. This position strengthened her time efficiency skills, and the ability to pay attention to details while handling funds. She has strong skills in communication, organization, and leadership because she worked collaboratively with many clubs to integrate Created Equal into the Ithaca Campus. This allows her to work independently a well as with a team, and to efficiently interact with clients. She was previously employed at McGinn IP Law firm as a secretary/paralegal. She was responsible for writing several documents in the process of each patents, trademarks and copyrights. This taught her to be conscious of the fast-paced environment of the corporate world, and improved her writing skills. Scott Vollin: Director of Corporate Advertising Scott Vollmin is responsible for creating various advertisements for Vision's clients. He earned a bachelor's degree in Communications from Ithaca College and went on to graduate school at New York University, where he earned a master's degree in communications. Scott has been working with Vision for five years and has quickly ascended to an executive position, working closely with the Corporate Advertising team and its various clienteles.
  14. 14. Vision Consulting: Ford Motor Company 14 BUDGET DESCRIPTION The budget for Ford Motor Company is divided into two major operating areas: Labor ($157,570) and Advertising ($814,759); resulting in a total fee of $972,259. $814,759 was spent on advertising on print ads in magazines and newspapers, television commercials, and Internet banners. The mediums for the advertisements for Ford Motor Company were chosen based on Mediamark Research & Intelligence Plus, a database of consumer demographics and psychographics for products and brands, as well as what we choose as new mediums to expand to. The results of the advertising will bring in greater profits for Ford Motor Company, concluding in greater success. $157,500 will be charged for labor costs because Vision Consulting employees are professional communication consultants who helped to improve Ford Motor Company. The total hours of labor was 300 hours. This fee includes all overhead charges of accounting fees, depreciation, insurance, interest, legal fees, rent, repairs, supplies, taxes, telephone bills, travel and utilities costs. CONCLUSION Vision Consulting believes that with its strategic plan and Ford Motor Company’s commitment, Ford will recover from its current situation. Strategic communication is vital to success and results in congruency between image and identity.
  15. 15. Vision Consulting: Ford Motor Company 15 APPENDIX A
  16. 16. Vision Consulting: Ford Motor Company 16 APPENDIX B
  17. 17. Vision Consulting: Ford Motor Company 17 APPENDIX C
  18. 18. Vision Consulting: Ford Motor Company 18 APPENDIX D
  19. 19. Vision Consulting: Ford Motor Company 19 APPENDIX E
  20. 20. Vision Consulting: Ford Motor Company 20 APPENDIX F
  21. 21. Vision Consulting: Ford Motor Company 21 APPENDIX G
  22. 22. Vision Consulting: Ford Motor Company 22 APPENDIX H
  23. 23. Vision Consulting: Ford Motor Company 23 APPENDIX I
  24. 24. Vision Consulting: Ford Motor Company 24
  25. 25. Vision Consulting: Ford Motor Company 25
  26. 26. Vision Consulting: Ford Motor Company 26 References Amend, J. (2008, September). Survey says americans favor foreign car brands [Electronic version]. Ward's Dealer Business, 11. Ford Announces New EcoBoost Technology. (2008, January 7). Ford Motor Company Global Auto Shows. Retrieved February 28, 2009, from Ford Motor Company Web site:‌196/‌2008/‌01/‌07/‌ford-announces-ecoboost-engine/ Ford Motor Company. (2009). Financial results. In About Ford. Retrieved March 21, 2009, from results Ford Motor Company. (2009). Plan and progress overview. Retrieved March 1, 2009, from Halliday, J. (2009, January 27). Ford aims to unify worldwide message. Retrieved March 1, 2009, from Advertising Age Web site: Halliday, J. (2009, January 12). Wanted: $50 million to improve the image of detroit's big three. Advertising Age. Retrieved February 10, 2009, from academic/delivery Kiley, D., & Welch, D. (2006, August 21). TRICKLE-DOWN DESPAIR AT FORD. Business Week, Retrieved March 22, 2009, from Business Source Premier database. How Ford Sync Works. (2007, January 24). Retrieved February 29, 2009, from‌ford-sync.htm Lincoln MKS: Reach Higher. (n.d.). Lincoln MKS. Retrieved March 21, 2009, from‌2009mks/‌?intcmp=B_MKSLaunchPhaseI_lincolnHomeBanner_Lincoln
  27. 27. Vision Consulting: Ford Motor Company 27 MKSReachHigher_20080604 Lombardi, C. (2009, January 2). Ford offers Lincoln ‘Park Assist’. In CNET: Planetary Gear. Retrieved February 29, 2009, from‌8301-17912_3-10130360-72.html Marister. (2009, February 27). Ford motor company. Message posted to Customer Relationship Center electronic mailing list, archived at Richardson, K. (2006, December 18). Ford's Debt Load Has Shareholders Bailing Out. Wall Street Journal - Eastern Edition, 248(143), C1-C3. Retrieved March 22, 2009, from Business Source Premier database. Walsh, D. (2005, September 5). World's socialist website [One-third of detroit's population lives below poverty]. Retrieved February 22, 2009, from