SAO PAULO - @Ford Online recently interviewed Ford of Brazil and Mercosur President Marcos de Oliveira regarding the company's new Go Further global brand promise. Below is an excerpt from that discussion.
Q. How do you describe what Go Further means to your team in South America?
A. I think it’s a great opportunity for Ford around the world and for us in South America., an opportunity to take the Ford message to the consumer as well as to the media, in a well-coordinated manner. We are very excited about it. At the same time, we know that it is a big responsibility. It is not just about a tagline, but it’s more about a mind-set. It’s making sure that all of our employees are really committed to delivering what this promise is to our customers around the world. It's incredibly important because we really need to deliver that with our dealers, with our suppliers, within our team – deliver what the customer is expecting from the Go Further global brand promise from Ford.
Q. Have you had any feedback from your employees?
A. We are starting to get that feedback and I think some of that feedback is really related to what I just mentioned. From the standpoint of being able to deliver that promise, delivery will be critical, making sure that all of our acts and our processes and our behaviors are really integrated with this brand promise. And I think the employees, as they start to understand what the promise is all about, are starting to feel responsible as well, and I think that’s very positive because you align the whole organization in what Ford wants to do around the world, what is our priority and the priorities for the customer. And I think the employees are starting to understand that.
Q. What does Go Further mean to you personally?
A. I think personally it means really going beyond what we have been doing traditionally. I think Ford’s turnaround has been a successful story the last few years but there is a lot more we can do. There is a lot more we can do for the company. There’s a lot more we can do for the automotive business, and there’s a lot more we can do for our customers and for the countries and the societies in which we live and work. And I believe we have to continue to reinvent ourselves all the time. This is not a static business. This is a dynamic business. We have to keep thinking about how we’re going to get better because the competition is fierce. The competition is coming after us, coming after any opportunity in the market. And we have to continue reinventing ourselves -- with regard to products and with regard to customer service in terms of how we anticipate what customers need before they know they need a new product or a new service.
Q. What are some of the things your team has already done in recent months that reflect the Go Further promise?
A. When we look ahead at the product portfolio in South America from 2012 to 2014, we see a dramatic change coming for us because we will be replacing 100 percent of our legacy products with global products, products with more technology, better design, more fuel efficiency and products that also will be more accessible in terms of cost in the market. When you start looking at our strategy from a product point of view and from a customer service point of view from our dealer network, you can see our team is starting to think about how we are going to integrate all of that. How do you offer a different value to our customers through those products and services? We’re starting to plan as we introduce new vehicles like the Ford Fusion and the new EcoSport, which we presented to the Brazilian and Indian media the first week in January. How can we integrate more of this capability that Ford has around the world? It can really be a great opportunity for the company and for customers as well.
Q.Part of the Go Further promise talks about service to the community. What do you do in South America to give back to the community?
A. We focus a lot on two areas in Brazil. One is on education and the other is sustainability. Those two elements are the pillars of our corporate responsibility initiatives in the region as well, and they are very well recognized. Many of them are very similar to what Ford does around the world but one that we think is very unique and interesting is a mobile dental office operated out of a cargo truck in Brazil where we offer services to truck drivers around the country when they need dental assistance. There is an educational element as well as children from small towns around Brazil can learn about dental hygiene and dental care in general in this program. This is a unique initiative based on educating. It has a lot to do with our brand at Ford. But it also has a lot to do with the community and with customers of our products. It is maybe one of the most unique initiatives. We call it Odontomóvel and we have some nice pictures of people we’ve helped. As a matter of fact, we had the president of Brazil visiting our station about a year ago or two years ago because it’s so unique and so relevant to a country like Brazil. The country has a lot of emerging communities that need a lot of assistance as well.
Q. How do you feel Go Further distinguishes Ford from the competition?
A. I believe that everybody is looking for differentiation. Everybody’s looking for a spot that makes the brand different from anybody else. I mean when you look at the competitive landscape right now everybody has competitive products. Everybody has nice-looking vehicles. And it’s becoming more and more difficult to create differentiation in this industry. And I think the global brand promise, Go Further, gives us the opportunity not only by offering technology through efficient vehicles and great-looking products, but also by offering attention to customers that is unique to the Ford brand. Customers will not be able to get that attention when they go to Brand A, B or C in other segments or even in the segments in which we participate. We are very confident that the global brand promise is not just a tagline. It has a lot more to do with our thinking, with our behavior and what we are going to offer our customers in the long run.
Q. What changes do you see ahead in the way your team operates under the Go Further brand promise?
A. Clearly we have seen a significant change in our operations in South America during the last few years with the One Ford initiatives. Today, we see our teams fully integrated with the rest of the world in Product Development, Manufacturing, Purchasing, Marketing and Sales. We believe that Go Further will give us the ability of going beyond that. Today, we are developing and designing products in Brazil to be sold around the world. We are bringing new developments and new products from Asia and Europe to the Brazilian market as well. And I think Go Further will give us a chance to bring new solutions, new products, and new technologies to customers in Brazil and around the world a lot faster. I think that is great. Our team is starting to do that, and as we’re starting to think about new developments, about new launches, we already are thinking globally and we’re already thinking about how can we leverage the power of Ford to help our customers here in South America so they can get a lot more from our products, our technology, our fuel-efficient solutions and everything we offer in our dealership.
Q. As you look back on 2011, what would you highlight as some of the major achievements in your region?
A. I believe 2011 was a very interesting year in the region because we saw a new dynamic in terms of competition in the market. The market in South America is a very complex market where we have brands from all over the world. Not only are the traditional North American brands or the Asian brands present, but brands from Europe are present in Brazil fighting for the minds and the hearts of customers there. What we’ve seen this year in addition to those brands that are already in the market is a significant growth in Chinese brands in the South American market. We are competing right now with products and brands from around the world. And it’s very important for us to adapt our business strategy to meet the demands of those customers – those dmands are increasing dramatically and very rapidly. And 2011 has been a very good year for us because we were able to achieve good business results. Financially, it was a positive year for us. But more importantly, we’ve been preparing our operations to become more efficient in terms of cost from a materials and manufacturing point of view while offering better products with more technology for a more competitive price as well, which has allows us to face the high level of competition that we’re seeing every day.
Q. Is that the greatest challenge that you see going into 2012?
A. Yes, absolutely. We see this really because our competitors have good products in the markets as well. They’ve been very aggressive from a pricing point of view. And our goal, our objective is to continue to grow our business profitably. Obviously, we want more volume. We want more share. But we want volume and share profitably. And it’s very important for us to be able to develop this new set of processes, principles and products that will make us competitive regarding price in the marketplace yet continue to generate financial results in the country. I believe 2012 will have a lot for us in South America.