Ford has had a long association in the UK: it is the home to diesel engine production and the Transit is designed here
Ford will promote itself as a British brand in the UK, as part of a so-called brand breakthrough strategy. The plan is part of a wider ambition to improve the Blue Oval’s image across Europe, and is being masterminded by global marketing boss Jim Farley.
"Ford has an opportunity in the UK that it does not have in the US, in that it can refresh itself in a patriotic way. In many ways it is the quintessential British brand," he said at the Geneva motor show. "It has been thought of that way for decades. We want to capture this spirit, although not by wrapping it in the flag like Mini or Burberry. It’s more about capturing the values of the new Britain in a contemporary and surprising way."
The broader object of this strategy is to improve the brand’s appeal, particularly among higher income households. "In the UK Ford still has a good reputation," says Farley, "but Volkswagen is gaining more traction."
Although he concedes that "the UK is quite sceptical about advertising," the aim is to create ads "with tension, that contain energy. They have to capture the Ford brand but be pithy and fresh." Farley reckons the Transit’s rock band van-of-choice record as a potentially rich seam of material, for example.
The company is now in the early stages of developing a British-flavoured promotional campaign that will also include Instagram, and should break later in the year.