DEARBORN - Recently, @Ford Online was able to join Ford Group Vice President and Chief Creative Officer J Mays at the Henry Ford Museum's new Driving America Exhibition in Dearborn, Mich. While at the exhibit, Mays discussed the company's new Go Further global brand promise. Below is an excerpt from that discussion.
Q. How do you describe Go Further to your team?
A. Back in January at the Global Leadership Meeting when we first started talking about the campaign for Go Further, my first thought was "how am I going to describe this to the team in Design?" Today, we find ourselves here at the Henry Ford, which is a golden example because this exhibit allows us to go through almost the full-vehicle history of Ford Motor Company. It shows how, when the company had its bottom up against the hot pipes - financially or otherwise - it was always the Design organization that was able to go further and, I think in some cases, it actually saved the company.
Among the few cars that I might mention is the ’49 Ford, which came out of post-war America. As Ford turned their eye back to production following the war effort, the Design team came up with the ’49 Ford – a milestone in the company’s history and a vehicle which was extremely popular in post-war America.
Fast forward to 1955, and again we really hit the mark with the 1955 Thunderbird. Fast forward again to 1961 with the ’61 Lincoln Continental, which is one of the cultural icons of the 20th century.
Same thing for the 64-½ Mustang. If we then go to the mid- to late-80s we have the Taurus, which absolutely revolutionized what a family sedan could look like.
And then of course in 1990, we have the Explorer which was really the first sport-utility vehicle to be sold mass market which changed the culture of how we sit and look out of a car as well as how we use it.
If we think about how we Go Further today as a Design organization, we need to look at the wide variety of cars we are offering to our customers. My message to the Design team is always that we have to go further in such a way that we offer our mainstream Ford customers a premium experience. We don’t want to charge more for the car, but we want to offer an upscale, premium vehicle that makes them feel like they’re getting the most value for the money. And that’s very much in line with Henry’s original idea which was to put transportation into the hands of as many people as possible.
Q. What does the brand promise Go Further mean to you personally?
A. When I think from a personal standpoint about Go Further, it involves not only what I’m trying to create as a Design organization for the customers but actually goes further in terms of how do I interact with my Design team? What is my personal interaction with the team on a daily basis? Am I doing everything I can to help each individual player on the team to be successful? So it becomes less about me and more about what can I do for others. It’s less about give and take and more about give and give. And if you can do that I think you’re helping the entire organization.
Q. In what ways does Go Further reflect how you and your team have been working day to day?
A. Go Further affects our day-to-day interaction as a Design team, because our Design team is not just in Dearborn and California, but in 11 studios scattered globally. We have studios from Dearborn to Shang Hai to Melbourne and the idea of getting input from all of those studios in order to create a better product for the customer is certainly something that we’ve not done to this extent in the history of the company.
Q. Can you offer any more examples of how you and your team have gone further delivering the One Ford plan?
A. A great example of how the Design team has gone further is probably the new Fusion/ Mondeo. We had input from around the globe: we had input from Cologne, from Melbourne, from the Dearborn studio. We got together collectively as a team and studied what we were going to do to make the Fusion/ Mondeo world class – in fact a world leader. It was collaboration among the different studios that allowed the team to go further and create such a wonderful car. We've actually created with the Ford Fusion/Mondeo the harbinger of the world’s first Ford global design DNA. If that’s not going further, I don’t know what is.
Q. How do you think Go Further will benefit the customer in the end?
A. I hope when the customers see the great products we have coming out over the next five years they’re going to understand the commitment on the part of the Design team, the Product Development team, Manufacturing, Purchasing and right down the line in creating a truly world class product.
Q. How do you feel Go Further distinguishes Ford from the competition?
A. When you create a vehicle you always have a certain standard that you’re after in order to make the car better than the last one or to create a benchmark that maybe the competition can chase. Inevitably, you’ll look at what the competition is doing. And part of what the competition does is create cars that are also appealing.
So you have to take a step back and think what are we going to do that goes further than the competition in order to deliver absolutely stellar quality to our customers. And part of that is about process. Part of that is about the team working together as a cohesive unit, an almost umbilical connection. And I think we’ve really started to gel on that in the last two to three years. If I look at the products that are coming out over the next five years, I think it’s the best product line in the history of the company.
Q. In what ways do you think Go Further contributes to Ford’s transformation?
A. I think what the brand promise, Go Further, does more than anything else is it makes us, as Ford Motor Company employees, start to look at how we can go further to work together to ultimately create a premium product for the customer. And if we can do that and if we can sustain it over ten years, we’re unstoppable.