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Ford wants its pedestal back

The company admits it "slipped off its pedestal" in the region, but now it's unveiling a big campaign and lots of new models and initiatives in a bid to win it back.

Ford Motor Company is kicking off a glitzy marketing campaign that aims to restore the lustre of the Ford brand in the Middle East. The campaign uses the slogan ‘Ford Drive’ and images of traditional Arabian life to evoke the idea of Ford as the ultimate vehicle for the desert.

At a press briefing to unveil the campaign, Ford executives repeatedly used the expression “The old Ford” to describe where they want Ford to be in the Middle East.

“The [earlier] feeling toward Ford resulted from our vehicles being close to people’s lives at the time,” said Dale Wendell, executive director and general manager, worldwide direct market operations, Ford Motor Company. “But as a brand, we have slipped off that pedestal. Now we want to regain that customer allegiance.”

As to exactly why Ford has slipped off that pedestal, Wendell spoke of “execution” as the company’s major problem in the region. One way it aims to put that right is with the introduction of its 'QualityCare' quick repair service across the Gulf.

Another initiative has been the introduction a year ago of the Al Amthal car leasing service in KSA. Showrooms are also being upgraded to provide a "customised, consistent experience across teh GCC," according to Jim Benintende, managing director, Ford Middle East & North Africa.

In the UAE, execution has been impeded by the small case of an ongoing court battle with Galadari over UAE agency rights. Wendell said that the case is “still in the courts and is going to be resolved.” The company would not speculate on when that is likely to be.

Ford says that its new marketing campaign will continue throughout next year. In this first phase, the focus of the campaign is on generic branding.

This will be followed by adverts focusing on individual vehicles. Ford is refreshing most of its major lines for 2002.

Wendell help up the campaign as evidence that Ford remains committed to the region at a time when many multi-nationals are reviewing operations here. Ford also has a major presence at the Motor Show, which begins today at Dubai World Trade Centre.

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