Is the Ford brand really that bad?

The automaker decides to drop its name and logo from its newest sales pitch.

By Kim Peterson May 15, 2012 1:40PM
Image: Ford logo © JEFF HAYNES/AFP/Getty ImagesSome drivers hate Ford (F) vehicles. They have all kinds of reasons to cringe whenever they see the Ford name and the blue oval.

Ford knows it. But Ford has been overhauling its lineup, adding new technologies and new designs. The quality is improved and the new models look good. If only people could get past that blue oval.

So Ford is experimenting with a new strategy. Why not take the name and logo out altogether? That's the basis for a new TV ad campaign that doesn't mention the company at all.

Check out this commercial. It almost seems to introduce a new car company, showing cars with some slick features, such as voice-activated technology and a spiffy car-parking system. The ad sends viewers to the website, and it's only when you get to the site that you see the Ford logo.

The idea is to make people rethink their perceptions of Ford. You might have hated the brand in the past, but it's different now. It's almost a return to the company's "Have you driven a Ford lately?" slogan. (Check out this amusing commercial for a reminder.)

Ford has been doing very well financially. It earned $29.5 billion in the last three years after losing about the same amount from 2006 through 2008, Bloomberg reports.

The new ads came out of Ford's own test clinics, Bloomberg reports. People were more enthusiastic about new models until they found out Ford made them.

"As soon as people see a blue oval they jump to immediate conclusions as to preconceived ideas about what the company does, what it stands for," a Ford marketing executive told Bloomberg. "We still have a gap and an opportunity to change that perception on the coasts."

Ford doesn't sell well on the West and East Coasts. Drivers in those markets prefer a Toyota (TM) or Honda (HMC), Bloomberg reports.

Ford is still keeping the logo on its vehicles. But it's trying to overcome a hard industry reality. Once people have a bad experience with one brand, they sign off altogether. They aren't about to put tens of thousands of dollars into another car from that company. Ford suffered from negative quality perceptions for quite a while, and even though the quality has improved, it's going to take a lot of work to reverse that damage.

May 16, 2012 5:46PM
as the  owner of a 2007 Ford Focus ST i have to say that i am completely satisfied with my Ford.  car has 60,000 miles on it and i recently took it on a 1300 mile roadtrip.  perfprmed flawlessly the whole way.  i expect to own this car for a couple more years.
May 16, 2012 5:42PM
just shows you how 'stupid' people are towards goods.  They'll buy a false represented product from a company who in fact has a worse record of quality and maintainence needs, than the one company they once had a problem car with. And they will point to some arbitary test magazine who if you follow their stats can not be reliable towards their perdictions and history data.  That is because most of the US persons are so easily led around.  There is not one company out there that makes better this than that etc.  The only thing that is different is the 'style' and that is ok to buy based on style.. But they all have just about the same numbers of  mechanical troubles and repair histories.  And Ford has done damn good, on their own no government money or loans, at making their products meet customers needs.  So sounds like a Ford person, could think so but I do NOT own a single Ford I prefer the style and favor the engineering of another brand.
May 16, 2012 5:39PM
All car companies have good and bad products and years. To add insult, they can be quite difficult to deal with when there are warranty claims.  A hassle we had with GM (Chevrolet) prior to the bankruptcy basically eliminated future purchase of any new cars or trucks from them. Others have similar feelings about other companies.
Ford is doing a better job of quality control than they might have had in the past.
Still, American car companies have a ways to go, and must do better with better products to win back customers from foreign car companies.

May 16, 2012 5:33PM

1st new Ford was a 1971 Galaxie 500, 5 Fords later, still more impressed


May 16, 2012 5:32PM

It's too bad that we bicker about which American cars are better or worse and join in on condemning a company when it is obviously trying to alter perceptions which may be based on narrow-minded opinions of the vocal few. There have been far too many poorly made vehicles produced and knowingly sold to us over the years by most, if not all automakers, foreign or domestic.

I remember in the 70's & 80's, seeing in my employer's parking lot all the nearly new, but rusted through, tiny, Japanese economy cars that we were desperate to buy just for their fuel economy. (point a finger at OPEC here, to be fair). We paid a high price for those gas savings by buying another import hoping that the rust problems were cured in the ensuing years. American automakers were asleep at the wheel then, the imports were not innovative, they were simply SMALL, lightweight cars. These were NOT well made cars. A simple matter of physics propelled them into the hearts and wallets of the unsuspecting, desperate-for-relief, American consumer.

That American automakers took so long to respond to this onslaught was absolutely their fault, but not entirely. The quickly changing emmission and safety regulations of the newly formed government agencies (EPA & NHTSA), made it impossible for the engineers to immediately devise, satisfactorily test and implement adequate systems to satisfy these ever changing regulations. It took many small improvements to get to where we are today. I was there and payng close attention to these developments. Everyone in the R&D of American auto industry and their suppliers were working diligently to improve our cars. The automakers could not just simply stop making the big, inefficient cars and just make clones of the imports. That would have led to the demise of the Big Three.

Today, most American cars are, and have been for many years, equal, and yes, superior to most of the imports in the same market segment. It took hard work from dedicated American workers to accomplish this, and it saddens me to see so many people dismiss one of our country's greatest, and lately, more ethical, economic assets, Ford Motor Company. I would buy an American auto over an import because I know that we must understand that this global economy has ripped too, too many good paying jobs from the hands of American families, never to be replaced by any employment close to what was lost. Do you understand what happens when a nation's tax base shrinks? Just look around you.

May 16, 2012 5:30PM
Hehe, I just hate ford haters. They're arrogant beatches who spend more time whinning about the competition which is right there at their bumpers (Ford and Dodge). Chevy folk think their sheet don't stink when I wouldn't drive a GM product if someone paid me.
May 16, 2012 5:26PM
As an owner of many Hondas and Toyotas over the years I needed a heavy duty truck and switched from a 2000 Tundra to a 2003 Ford F250 which I was so impressed with I then purchased a 2008 Mustang GT. I have been very happy with both vehicles but when it was my wife's turn she opted for a 2012 Honda Accord over a Ford Fusion, when I asked why she said the Mustang was nice and Ford makes the best trucks but otherwise she was not sold on the reliability. The article is spot on, it will take many years for Ford to catch up with the perception of superior Japanese auto quality.
May 16, 2012 5:24PM
The only thing that irritates me about Ford, other than dumb ad campaigns like this, is that every time they get a car absolutely perfect that starts turning heads on the parking lots and getting questions, they discontinue it!  I'm a Ford fan after trying the others, but Ford, please!  Take for example my Sport Trac.  Got the last year made top line model with all the bells and whistles and everyone's coming up and asking about it, saying it's what they want, what is it, how neat, where can we get one, etc. and then I have to tell them it's the last model Ford made before dumping them and they're not available anymore.  Really Ford?!  Same thing with the Escort.  They finally got it right and it was turning heads and even brought some of my BMW friends over to become fans of the sporty drive, then Ford goes and cheaps it, then turns it into a 2 door, then dumps it completely.  Finally get the Focus right and same thing; now it's a ghost of what it was and they've replaced it as the rally car.  Get with the program, Ford!  I want to stay loyal, but that junk is going to eventually drive me off.  You want to win people, start listening to what your loyal drivers want then keep the winning models around when you've finally got it instead of trying to follow the dumb ideas the others are doing.
May 16, 2012 5:24PM
I love the Oval. can't stand chevy. I guess it is a goverment thing.
May 16, 2012 5:19PM
I have had horrible experiences with Ford and Chevy in the past which lead me to hate America vehicles, and move on to Germany vehicles which have caused me little to no headaches.  I think this article is spot problems of the past were about 10 years ago and when I left I never looked back.  Plus I always felt the interior of american cars was very play with big empty pieces of plastic.  I saw the commercial the other day that showed the new 2013 Fusion with no Ford logo and emblems, and immediately I was like oh what is that.  I think a rebranding is definitely needed for both car brands, but must say the new Fusion design is pretty awesome looking.
May 16, 2012 5:10PM

The logo I can't stand is the Chevrolet logo, the gold colored ribbon looking thing.  Looks cheap, and what does it do to resemble an automobile or manufacturer?  I would never buy a Chevy with that ugly thing on the grill!.  If I bought a truck it would be an F-150 or a GMC, in that order.  By the way, I have had Ford, Mercury and Mazda cars for years (Mazda MX-6 GT Turbo one of my favorites for 14 years!).  Mazda had very comfortable cloth seats, felt and fit like a Recaro racing seat, with many manual adjustments (much better that electric ones).  Now driving 2 BMW's and a Jaguar, as I am older and can afford luxury cars.  But my next car is going to be a Ford, since the dealer is local and has a great dealership.  Much easier for service than driving 45-60 minutes for the BMW or Jag shop.  Keeping one or both of the BMW's "forever", Jag is my daily driver and still a great car.

May 16, 2012 5:08PM
About a year ago our car was damaged in a hail storm. While it was in the body shop our insurance company furnished us with a rental car. The car was a 2011 Ford Fusion. When we picked it up we had the choice between it and a 2011 Chevy Malibu. We tried both before we finally chose the Ford. We were impressed with how comfortable it was compared to the Chevy and when our car was ready to be returned to us we were almost sorry to give the Ford back! 
May 16, 2012 5:05PM
I bought a Volvo back in 1999, just before Ford purchased them. It was at that moment, I believe, that Ford's quality improved. They were smart enough to see how Volvo did business in regards to safety and reliability and incorporated that into the Ford process. I bought an F-150 Supercrew in 2003 (which has done me good for the last 9 years) and am currently looking at a Focus or Fusion for my newly licensed teenage daughter. I am now and will be loyal to the one U.S. company that made it's way back from the brink of extinction without the help of the government. I didn't mind the bailout, it saved jobs and the auto industry in this country, (and MADE GM improve their product) but Ford did it the old fashioned way; on their own. They get my money based on that alone!
May 16, 2012 5:02PM
This article is ridiculous!!  What does he own stock in a different car company or something!!  Look on the road the next time you drive and you will see the Blue oval everywhere.  There is nothing wrong with the logo at all.  Do you think Chevy should change their bowtie now too??
May 16, 2012 5:00PM

My new car is Ford Fiesta  Titanium

Ilike the model,Ilove,,,,my car.

May 16, 2012 5:00PM

I've had equal numbers of Ford trucks and Chevy trucks over the years and have come to find out that the Fords are MUCH more reliable. I have beeen driving my current F150 for 12 years now and have done nothing but put tires on it and replace the battery twice. Can't even come close to saying that for the GM products I've owned. All the "techy" stuff everyone wants and say Ford is out of touch with is the same crap I'm constantly replacing on my wife's GMC Envoy. After all the others took your hard earned money to pay off the fat cats I find it interesting that anyone would still follow those car manufacturers. I'll stick with Ford.

May 16, 2012 4:57PM
Owned many brands and Chevrolet  will get my business i currently drive a 1995 silverado with 177,000 miles on it..This truck drives like a new truck and is very dependable unlike the ford or dodge trucks i have owned in the past..I was always a Chevy person but gave ford a chance to sway my loyalty since my first car was a 1965 mustang 2+2 that had plenty of problems but was abused and they didnt even come close i owned a 1982 f150 4x4 a 1988 f150 2wd that was purchased new and  had problems shortly after purchase and a 2000 ranger 4x4 that i had gotten a good deal on but is a mazda and wasnt a bad truck..I have owned many chevys such has a 1978 1/2 ton with 80,000 that had 350,000 on it with not one problem when traded for the used 1982  ford  4x4 that was a good deal it was an okay truck with some problems and also had a new 2005 silverado had over 40,000 on it not one problem  traded it in 2007 for the new body style and had to let it go in 2010 with over 60,000 trouble free miles due to disability and not being able to work then bought my present truck with 4,000 cash the 1995 silverado with 145,000 miles on it and must say its my favorite truck i have ever owned still looks great gets lots of compliments and runs better then new and zero problems even at 177,000 i plan on running this truck forever what a great truck  great style great ride and best of all very dependable..I know you die hard ford fans will stand behind ford no matter what but try a chevy and you will never go back Bow Tie rules in my book
May 16, 2012 4:56PM
In 40 years, we've tried all the others, they were junk that bombed out on us.  Went back to Ford and have been happy.  Not their fault they were sold some junky parts by their Asian branches.  They could have stood by their customers a little better, but they still did far better in that regard than the other manufacturers who let people die and forcing Congress to get involved before they half-a-ed did anything.  I work a risky job that involves a high chance of getting hit on the road; I've been hurt by all the other makers, but was able to walk away with only scratches from Fords.  I'll stick by them if they stick by that.  If others can't get past a logo and name, then their brain-dead loss.  Another reason to like them?  International presence, rally cars, and no bailouts!
May 16, 2012 4:55PM
I love my Fords.  Have always driven them.  Strayed in the early 90's with a Chrysler mini van that was a piece of junk and went right back to Ford.  My current 2000 Explorer has over 186,000 miles and is still going strong.
May 16, 2012 4:53PM
My very first car was an 87 Ford Escort - it got the crap beat out of it - even got rear-ended by a dump truck and it still ran, just wasn't worth fixing the body. I have owned a lot of different cars since then and I just bought a 2012 Ford Focus SE. Ford gave me credit when my bank wouldn't because of an upside down loan on my previous vehicle. They are paying to install cruise control on it for me and it gets great gas mileage. I think it is silly for them to hide the Logo. They are AMERICAN and I don't care if my car fell apart tomorrow, it's AMERICAN. People all have their own opinions about different types of cars-some are better than others, but Ford needs to stand true. Don't back down to everyone buying foreign - just keep thinking bigger and better and stand behind the cars you build and sell. Being deceitful will only make things worse.
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