The Ford Motor Company remains one of the world's major carmakers, but a series of challenges over the past two decades has pushed it steadily down the rankings. The #2 manufacturer in 2000, it is now, following the creation of Stellantis, the smallest of the major mass-market manufacturers. As well as the main Ford brand, the company owns luxury marque Lincoln, sold mainly in North America, but a sizeable collection of other brands were sold or discontinued in the 2000s. A trio of British automobiles - Aston Martin, Jaguar and Land Rover - were relinquished to other owners and the group also surrendered its effective control of Japan's Mazda, though the two companies maintain a loose strategic alliance. The Volvo passenger car business in Sweden was sold in 2010 to Geely of China, and the struggling North American Mercury brand was shuttered at that year's end. Those disposals were originally prompted by a series of escalating problems during the 2000s ranging from over-capacity and management turmoil to a massive recall of faulty Firestone tires. In fact, these multiple hurdles were ultimately to prove modestly beneficial, allowing the group to begin its restructuring well before the sudden and near-catastrophic slowdown which occurred during 2007 and 2008, which temporarily bankrupted rivals General Motors and Chrysler. Yet unlike GM, which was able to wash away most of its financial burden in a Chapter 11 spring clean, Ford still labours under a mountain of debt. The main Ford brand is the worldwide #3 car brand. Registrations slipped for all manufacturers in Covid-impacted 2020: Ford registered 4.18m vehicles. Its top-seller is the Ford F-Series pick-up truck, the world's #3 selling model (behind Toyota's Corolla and RAV4), with 968km units registered in 2020. However no other model made even the Top 25. Another pick-up, the Ranger is the next best-seller at 291k units, followed by the Focus compact (257k) and Explorer SUV (246k). In the US alone, both the Ford brand (sales of 1.9m vehicles) and the F-Series (sales of 787k vehicles) are the local top sellers in both categories. Lincoln sits just outside the US Top 25 brands at 105k vehicles registered in 2020. Total group wholesale units slipped by more than 1m in 2020 to 4.2m vehicles. The US accounted for 1.8m units. China is the group's #2 market, some way behind at 617m, but Germany surged into third place for the first time in 2020 at 211k units, followed by Canada (210k) and the UK (208k). Revenues topped $160bn in 2018, the best figure for more than a decade, but have fallen back since then, settling at $127.1bn in 2020. Net income plunged from $3.7bn in 2018 to a net loss for 2020 of $1.3bn. William Clay Ford Jr, great-grandson of company founder Henry Ford, is executive chairman and several other family members works within the group. Collectively the Ford family control around 40% of equity. Jim Farley succeeded Jim Hackett as CEO in 2020.
Capsule checked 14th May 2021
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Historical profile information for Ford
Marketer Moves 8th Aug 2021: New global CMO at Ford Pro commercial vehicles. See Marketer Moves (members only).
Adbrands Daily Update 24th Nov 2020: In a major change of strategy, Ford named the former eBay exeutive Suzy Deering at its new global chief marketing officer. She replaces Joy Falotico who now leads Ford's Lincoln brand. Deering's appointment is unusual in that she has no significant experience in the automotive sector. What she does have, however, is considerable expertise in the increasingly important area of marketing technology. "Deering is accomplished at using technology, data and analytics to anticipate customer needs and fulfill them with human-centered products and services," said Ford. Deering herself said "Technology will be a powerful part of Ford's transformation and how we enhance and release the huge value of our iconic brands."
Adbrands Daily Update 30th Sep 2020: "The Real Deal". One of the other great things about digital trickery is the effect you can create by stripping it all out again. That's the concept behind Clemenger BBDO's new campaign for Ford in Australia. The new Ford Puma is so stylish (supposedly) that it doesn't need all the fancy CG window dressing. Ironically, of course, it's the gradual elimination of all the smoke and mirrors that makes the ad so entertaining. As for the car itself, hmmm...
Adbrands Daily Update 4th Aug 2020: Jim Farley's meteoric rise at Ford continues. Just six months after he was elevated to COO, Farley was confirmed as the next CEO of Ford when current incumbent Jim Hackett retires in October. Hackett's three-year term at the head of Ford has been a difficult one, marked by slowing performance. Operating profit has fallen in each of the three years since Hackett was appointed, in sharp contrast to arch-rival GM which has enjoyed rising profits and margins.
Adbrands Daily Update 9th Feb 2020: Ford elevated its former marketing and strategy chief Jim Farley to the role of chief operating officer. That puts him him in a direct line of succession behind CEO Jim Hackett, who has been struggling to turn around performance at the storied auto giant for the past three years. Ford recently missed its 4Q profits target and issued disappointing guidance for the current year. Farley originally joined Ford from Toyota and has led several departments. He was most recently in charge of Ford's strategy on electric vehicles. Coinciding with his appointment as COO, Ford announced the resignation of manufacturing head Jim Hinrichs, a 19 company veteran, many of whose duties Farley will now assume.
Adbrands Daily Update 19th Nov 2019: "New Breed". British actor Idris Elba is the front man for Ford's bold reinvention of its classic Mustang racer, in an all-electric version, the Mach-E, and main agency BBDO NY is behind this striking launch film. It's a great-looking spot, but with some reservations. Now, we like Idris Elba a lot; this is a guy with character and charisma, which he has used to great effect in recent ads for Squarespace and Stella Artois. So we're wondering why BBDO hasn't made better use of him here. Who is he talking to? Not us, clearly, because otherwise he would be looking at us, not off into space or into his coffee. Eye contact is the secret to good salesmanship. Everyone knows that. An opportunity missed, we feel.
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