Ford (Finally) Turns Employees Into Brand Ambassadors

I just read a BrandWeek article called Ford Asks Employees, Dealers to Spread Ad Message that talks about Ford’s new campaign called “Drive one” which includes a push for employees and dealers to spread the word. Jim Farley group vp-marketing and communications for Ford explains it this way:

The whole idea behind this campaign is not fancy ads. It’s talking to the customer, who talks to a friend. It’s the only chance we have to break the apathy.

My take: As I talked about in my previous post about John Hancock, advertising alone can’t dramatically change a company’s positioning. It takes a shift in how you interact with customers. That means you need to get employees involved (and for car makers, it means dealers as well). So this approach makes absolute sense. Yet, something is wrong.

The fact that Ford is making such a big deal out of this approach means that it’s an unusual occurance. So the car maker does NOT regularly engage employees and dealers in its advertising efforts. That’s a problem. Employees and the entire front line need to be developed into ambassadors for any campaign. And if they can’t promote it, then that’s probably a good sign that the campaign is not a good one. 

When I interviewed the CMO for JetBlue several years ago, she told me that she spent half of her time communicating the brand message internally. Sounds like a good benchmark.

The bottom line: CMOs need to become CMMOs, Chief Marketing And Motivational Officers.

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I am a customer experience transformist, helping large organizations improve business results by changing how they deal with customers. As part of this focus, I examine strategy, culture, interaction design, customer service, branding and leadership practices. I am also a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Simply put, I am passionate about spotting emerging best practices and helping companies master them. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. My “title” is Managing Partner of the Temkin Group, a customer experience research and consulting firm that helps organizations become more customer-centric. Our goal is simple: accelerate the path to delighting customers. I am also the co-founder and Emeritus Chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA.org), a non-profit organization dedicated to the success of CX professionals.

3 thoughts on “Ford (Finally) Turns Employees Into Brand Ambassadors”

  1. Great message, Bruce, but I would take it a step further. I agree that CMO’s who believe they can create brand ambassadors through tactical means need a reality check, but I think it takes more than just regularly communicating the brand message internally to create brand ambassadors. I can’t speak for the employee culture at Ford, but unless the people in an organization are really passionate about the brand, they can’t effectively be brand ambassadors. Employees need to know they are a valued and important part of the organization first. The need know that their ideas and opinions matter and that their voice is heard. That fosters a feeling of ownership which leads to commitment. With that level of engagement as a foundation and regular, consistent internal communication of the brand message, employees are ready to be brand ambassadors.

  2. At my last software company, Anheuser-Busch was one of our loyal customers. While at a technical conference, I had lunch with our primary contacts. He told me that A-B gave the employees gift cards with special instructions: if they were at a bar or restaurant and someone was drinking another brand of beer, they were to use the gift card to buy a round of Budweiser (or another A-B brand) for their table. A nice, classy move and shows real pride in their products. I was impressed.

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