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Ford claims FG Falcon launch is best ever
Blue Oval happy with new Falcon introduction, sales and even those TV commercials
17 Jun 2008
THE launch of the FG Falcon has gone exactly to plan and the TV advertising is the “best ever”, according to Ford Australia sales and marketing chief Mark Winslow.
The FG went on sale in the middle of May and recorded about 2400 sales – there were an estimated 800-1000 BF sales in the total of 3320 – and the result for June is expected to be 3000-plus.
Ford has been progressively rolling out the model range and will not have the full line-up in every dealer nationwide until about the middle of July.
The highly-rated turbocharged G6E Turbo and XR6 models will be the last to arrive, but Ford denies rumours that there have been problems with final engineering sign-off and validation of the potent turbo engine, saying it was always the plan to introduce the more complex models last.
Mr Winslow said that the BF run-out has been Ford’s best in the Asia-Pacific region, the launch of the FG has been very positive and the TV commercials have succeeded is grabbing people’s attention, but he stopped short of predicting it would be enough to knock the Holden Commodore off its sales perch.
“As a sales guy, you always like to think you can do that, but I’m not going to sit here and say we’re going to do this or that,” said Mr Winslow at Ford’s monthly sales briefing.
“What we’re going to do is launch a really good car to the marketplace, get bums in seats and let them drive it, then what flows from there flows from there.
“I wouldn’t be overly disappointed (if Falcon didn’t knock off Commodore at least one month this year). Knocking off Commodore doesn’t pay the bills selling cars and making money pays the bills. It’s about selling cars profitably.
“We have our volume goals for our business and, as long as we achieve those volume goals, we’re happy. If we happen to get a headline because we’ve outsold somebody, that’s a bonus.
“We always said we would do 3000 and change on this new car. We did that last month (and) we expect to do that again in June.
Left: Ford Australia sales and marketing chief Mark Winslow.
“On a straight share basis, we got 31.3 per cent of the market without having everything out there and system fill – so without having the right level of volume and model spread at every dealership. To pull nearly a third of the market without system fill, we’re not unhappy with.
“We haven’t filled up our distribution system we really don’t have enough cars out there at this particular point.
“I guess we always had a bigger mountain to climb than our competitors on the basis that we launched Falcon sedan and ute at virtually the same time.” While conceding that the “Walking Fingers” TV commercials are controversial, Mr Winslow said it was important that people are talking about them and rejected the suggestion they are obscure.
“There’s a lot of automotive advertising out there,” he said. “We needed something that was going to cut through and that’s what we think we’ve done.
“Once we showed the dealers the market research on that advertising in terms of does it have cut-through, does it deliver the message, it was the most powerful Falcon ad that we have ever taken to research in our history.
“In terms of all of the ads that we’ve ever tested, this was the best ever one on Falcon.
“We always knew that we were taking a risk, we knew we were going to be out there, but we think in this market we had to be out there – we had to do something different.
“Sometimes you’ve got to be brave on these things and that’s exactly what we’ve done. Our bravery was supported by the market research that said, ‘You have something that people like and is going to cut-through and get people’s attention’.
“We never want to make ads that we like, that we or our dealers think are pretty. What we’re looking at is how we get the consumer’s attention and the research is telling us that we’ve achieved that.
“I think the worst possible outcome would have been that nobody spoke about it because that just means that you’ve spent hundreds of thousands of dollars for absolutely zero.” Mr Winslow said that the new model names and line-up have been “received very positively” and that the big fleets agreed with the repositioning. In fact, he said that all the feedback from dealers and fleets has been totally positive.
“We don’t have any negatives to talk about,” he said. “It’s been all good.
“We’ve put over 1600 dealer principals, sales consultants and sales managers through a back-to-back drive session on all the sedan and ute variants, we’ve taken almost 500 fleet customers through the same thing – here’s all the features and benefits, there’s its competitors, there’s our car, now go drive it – our dealers have done in excess of 100 of their own launch events and they’ve been very well frequented by our customers, so from our point of view, so far so good.
“In terms of vehicle run-outs, just around the Asia Pacific region, the Falcon run-out has been put up there as the best we’ve ever had. We’ve got about 1300 (BF) Falcons in total on the ground (at dealers), which is the cleanest Falcon launch of any that I’ve been involved in. We planned the run-out particularly well.”
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