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Old 12-05-2008, 03:47 PM   #1
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Default Ford pitches its story to the public with new Web site

Taking a page out of the Obama playbook, Ford is appealing directly to the American public with a new Web site titled "The Ford Story"--complete with YouTube videos and details of its future plans--as it tries to build its case for part of $34 billion in federal loans.

With Congress appearing to possibly warm to the idea of giving loans to the Detroit 3, the new site tries to answer many questions Americans have about the state of the industry, how it got into its current predicament and how it is moving forward.

The site has intimate interviews with Ford CEO Alan Mulally and Mark Fields, the company's president of the Americas. Perhaps trying to dispel the myth of the jet-set, ivory-tower executive, they both appear in soft lighting and speak candidly about Ford's recent past and future.

Mulally, in a white button-down shirt and a gold tie, speaks for two minutes and 41 seconds. He stresses that Ford has accelerated its product plans to bring new cars to the market. He said Ford doesn't need aid right now, but could if economic conditions worsen.

"I like our position today, as tough as it is," Mulally said.

He also said a bankruptcy of General Motors or Chrysler would affect Ford and have a major impact on the industry.

"If anyone of the OEMS goes into bankruptcy, it would probably have a domino effect," he said.

The site also touts Ford's new products, technology and safety advancements.

Fields also tries to convey a sense of confidence in the company, noting that its product mix is now roughly even between cars and trucks. Several years ago, it was about 70 percent trucks.

"We're tying to react to the marketplace," Fields said.

In an effort to make Ford's appeal become more viral--and perhaps to spark grassroots interest--the site is shared via e-mail fairly easily with friends.

Ford isn't the first to take to the Internet as a way to directly communicate with the public.

President-Elect Barack Obama's use of the Web is widely credited with helping him build his case directly with voters, particularly young ones. And GM has similarly used the Web, including the GMnext and GM Facts and Fiction sites, as a means to communicate directly.

The strategy is part of the efforts by Detroit's automakers to change their images after their leaders' first appearance before Congress, asking for federal help, fell flat in Washington. They ditched the corporate jets, responded with more details on why they need assistance and are trying to change the public's generally disapproving view of their industry.
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Old 12-05-2008, 07:04 PM   #2
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First impressions are extremely important, and these guys blew it the first time around. Nice try auto execs.

Sorry, but if these guys didn't have the forsight to skip the corporate jets and whatnot the first time around, they obviously lack the forsight to run their companies successfully in coming years. Ford's top guy is the best of the bunch, but any agreement for aid should include a claus requiring the subsequent termination of the of the CEO who's company is recieveing aid and some sort of structure for making labor costs and rules competitive with those of other foreign manufacturers that build cars in the US... Both sides (management and labor) caused this mess and both sides should take a hit if they recieve the unearned aid that they are begging for.

Last edited by jhargis; 12-05-2008 at 08:05 PM.
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Old 12-06-2008, 01:34 AM   #3
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Automatic termination of the CEO is not necessarily in the best interest of the company (and the taxpayer, if we are becoming a de facto shareholder). Especially Mulally, who has an excellent track record. Turning around a company the size of Ford or GM is a tremendous undertaking.

I wish we were as willing to scrutinize Wall Street as we seem to be for Detroit. We're into the trillions with the banks and nobody seems to care, but a $15B loan to the Big Three requires multiple congressional hearings and rivets the public's attention for several weeks. It took less time than this to approve the first $700B for Wall Street.

It is simply a confirmation of what we already knew -- most people are incredibly stupid.
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Old 12-06-2008, 01:49 AM   #4
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Most people are extremely stupid, although I fail to be convinced that the financial bailout was anything more than greed rather than stupidity. Paulson is a corrupt SOB and a traitor to the US imo as he essentially stole billions from the american public to hand to his chronies with nearly no strings attached. There was a pretty substantial public outcry when the first bailout was being drafted. Of course congress didn't listen and they very willingly threw our money down the garbage disposal.

Apparently some in congress want any automotive bailout to come out of the 750b set aside for the financial institutions. Bush is totally against this obviously. IMO anything left of the 750b is just guaranteed wasted money. At least Ford has some life left in it yet, and handing them some of the money wouldn't be nearly as hugely wasteful as it would be to hand it to greedy bankers. Handing all 3 of them money from a fresh bailout would be a mistake. Handing them money that was set aside already and will only be wasted even worse if it is not given to them is the next best thing. Handing the bulk of the money to Ford and two lesser amounts to GM and Chrysler is ideal imo. Bolster ford, and maybe put them in a position to take ownership of one or a few of the brands owned by GM would be a good idea imo as GM makes incredibly, amazingly stupid business decisions pretty regularly.

IMO GM and Chrysler are too far gone to realistically expect to salvage without DRASTICALLY reducing their size, which they obviously don't want to do. At least Ford still has a real place in the international market. Not to mention GM's CEO, I forget his name, is a huge asshat.
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