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Ford goes after Corolla with diesel ads

Gloves off: A scene from Ford's television commercial for Focus diesel, which compares its fuel economy with Toyota Corolla.

Second barrage targets Toyota as Ford pushes Focus fuel efficiency in TV campaign

Ford logo13 Jul 2009

FORD Australia is attacking market leader Toyota head-on with a marketing campaign that claims the fuel efficiency high ground.

The latest salvo was fired on Sunday when Ford aired a TV commercial claiming its diesel Focus is 25 per cent more efficient than the petrol-only Corolla.

The TV campaign follows a print advertisement that Ford Australia president Marin Burela called “a shot across the bow”, claiming Falcon E-Gas was ‘cheaper on fuel’ than the Corolla and that a Falcon XT used less petrol than a four-cylinder Camry.

The advertising strategy comes on the eve of a fuel economy marketing war in Australia with Toyota, Holden and Ford all preparing to make the most of greener products that are about to be introduced.

Toyota has unleashed a wave of advertising for the new Prius and is also preparing for next year’s introduction of the locally-made Camry Hybrid.

Holden has already started a push with the launch of its EcoLine sub-brand which includes its Active Fuel Management technology on V8s. It is expected to ramp up this fuel economy message with the launch campaign for the updated Commodore which will feature a range of fuel-saving technologies when it arrives in August or September.

 center image Left: Ford Falcon XT. Below: Ford Fiesta ECOnetic.

Ford is readying another fuel economy push for the November launch of the super-efficient ECOnetic Fiesta, which it claims uses less fuel than the hybrid Prius.

The current Ford TV spot shows a young man in a Corolla and a young woman in a Focus going for a drive.

The Toyota driver runs out of fuel at the traffic lights while the Focus driver continues on as a voiceover reads: “Ford Focus diesel goes 25 per cent further than the Toyota Corolla.” Ford Australia general marketing manager David Katic said the company was simply using a traditional marketing technique.

“We are focussing on classic marketing, a unique selling proposition, so to pick on something we have that our competitors haven’t,” he said.

“What we are doing now is getting very single-minded on what our key advantages are.” Mr Katic said pointing out that the Ford Focus was available with an efficient diesel engine while the Corolla was not, should be effective.

“That is a very strong consumer statement ... and you all know that is very important to customers at the moment – green, fuel efficiency is very topical and has been for years.” He said it was important to have a clear and simple message.

“When you think about it, a 30-second television commercial is only 30 seconds. It’s not 10 minutes. And if you want to cram 15 messages into 30 seconds, you’re going to pay the price of consumer ... overload.” Mr Katic said the new emphasis on fuel economy would help overcome perceptions Ford was lagging behind other car-makers on efficiency.

“The Ford brand has not been seen as providing fuel-efficient cars and we think that is absolutely wrong,” he said.

“It is very much positioning our brand as a fuel-efficient brand and breaking down those barriers.” Ford Australia president Marin Burela said there was nothing wrong with featuring a rival brand to emphasise the positives of its vehicles.

“It is not inappropriate to go out, be very direct and tell the facts as they are. You know the facts, it’s time to put the facts on the table,” he said.

“What you are seeing here is communicating our level of difference. As you can see fuel efficiency is one of our key advantages.” So why did Ford target Toyota? “Well, because they are the market leader,” he said.

Toyota declined to comment on the record when contacted by GoAuto about the new advertising campaign.

Ford is looking to the Focus advertising campaign to help lift sales of the small car, which is languishing in fifth place in the small-car segment.

VFACTS figures show that Ford has sold just 5959 Focus cars so far this year.

In the same period, Toyota has sold 17,573 Corollas, Mazda sold 18,196 Mazda3s, Hyundai moved 9904 i30s and Mitsubishi sold 8672 Lancers.

Asked if Ford will be using the same kind of advertising technique for a future TV spot promoting Falcon by comparing it to the market-leading Holden Commodore, Mr Burela indicated this was unlikely.

Instead he suggested the campaigns would likely point out Falcon positives.

“It’s won more awards in its category than any other car in the country,” he said. “It was the first car to deliver five-star safety, it’s got fuel economy equal to a four-cylinder vehicle that is running around here in the country, the XR heritage is now seen as a very desirable.

“Our quality is in the class-leading range so when you look at the great stories we have around Falcon, the biggest problem we will have is running out of time and press and paper to communicate all of our strengths.” The latest advertising campaign is a world away from the feel-good advertisements that accompanied the launch of the FG Falcon featuring ‘fingers walking across the landscape’.

Ford insiders viewed this campaign, which was introduced before Mr Burela took up his current position, as a failure.

Mr Burela even ridiculed it when describing the simplicity of the Falcon advertisements that followed including a straightforward pitch for the XR and a Falcon range ad that simply spoke of the awards it had won. “When you saw that commercial that we ran about the awards, there was nothing fancy, there were no fingers running around the countryside, it was very clear, very specific, we showed people we won those awards,” he said.

“That had a huge impact in terms of raising the awareness.” When the XT Falcon’s fuel consumption was reduced to 9.9 litres per 100km – the same as a Camry four cylinder – Mr Burela and his marketing team decided to make the most of it with the advertisement comparing the XT to the Camry and stating the E-Gas Falcon was cheaper to run that the Corolla.

“That really starts to send a powerful message,” Mr Burela said of the print advertisement.

He said the ad had a good impact and spoke of: “people writing to us saying ‘wow, how didn’t we know this before’?”

Read more:

Green Fiesta to arrive in final quarter

Toyota set for hybrid explosion

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