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Repositioning of Ford Motor Co.

Under the leadership of Chief Executive Officer Jacques Nasser, Ford Motor Company is now engaged in a major repositioning of its brands, its image, and its markets. Nasser's goal is to turn Ford "from a boring old car maker whose shares achieve a price-earnings ratio of only ten, into a consumer-products and services company commanding a multiple of more like thirty" (The Economist, 1999, p. 10). Simultaneously, by shifting some of its emphasis from affordable, mid-range family cars and sport utility vehicles (SUVs) to the upscale markets via its acquisition of Jaguar, Aston Martin, and Volvo, and reassessing its own Lincoln and Mercury brands, Ford hopes to capture an increased share of the luxury market as well (The Economist, 1999). To that end, the company has launched a massive advertising campaign to position its brands in this new market.

While advertising targeting upscale automobile purchasers is one of the key features of Ford's new campaign, the company has not abandoned its younger and less affluent consumers. The Ford Focus is a vehicle designed for buyers aged 35 and under, and the price tag for the vehicle reflects this market (Halliday, 2000a). The brand is being characterized as an ideal vehicle for echo boomers (children of baby boomers) who are upwardly mobile, but not yet ready for the purchase of a true luxury vehicle. Ford's goal, as represented throughout all of its new advertising, is to produce sufficient vehicle variety and price points to appeal to virtually every potential automobile, SUV, or truck buyer. Where quality may have been Ford's primary emphasis in the 1980s and early 1990s, what appears to be taking place is a new emphasis on broadening Ford's appeal by providing trendy, safe, environmentally responsible and luxury car options (Halliday, 2000a).

As The Economist (1999) recently suggested, few auto makers have a strong grasp of their brands - the exception being BMW, whose custo...

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