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Ford Motor Co. has golden opportunity for overseas sales

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Ford Motor Co. has golden opportunity for overseas sales

Farley to oversee most crucial global launches



Jim Farley, Ford's global marketing chief, is seizing a unique opportunity to coordinate the global launch of the automaker's most important vehicles.

Ford will soon introduce 10 cars, crossovers and SUVs based on its compact Focus as well as a new global version of its midsize Fusion and will look for small-car sales growth from its new Ford Fiesta. The automaker is also trying to gain sales in India and China.

Farley, 48, who left Toyota in 2007 to join Ford, is regarded as a potential successor to President and CEO Alan Mulally. But CEO watchers said Farley needed operational experience. . So Mulally put him in charge of all Ford business in Canada, Mexico and South America.

Farley, born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, told the Free Press he enjoyed the experience, but the self-described "marketing geek" felt he could have a greater impact if he gave up those duties. On Aug. 1 he returned to his main passion, overseeing Ford's global sales and service, including new product launches.

"All of these products are going to be coming out in the next two years," Farley said. "Do I want to spend my time launching these products, getting the dealer network right, getting the launches perfect and setting up the distribution network in Asia? Or do I want to spend 20% of my time doing that and 80% working on the product in South America?"

In his new role, Farley works closer with Derrick Kuzak, Ford's head of global product development.

"This really uses all of Jim's talents," Mulally said.

Farley puts together team for vehicle debuts in Asia

Jim Farley, in his new role as Ford's global sales and service chief, is assembling a team to lead dealer development and product launches in Asia.

Farley, 48, is and will remain Ford's global marketing chief, but with sales and service duties added. That puts him even deeper into Ford's product-planning process.

Decisions ranging from engine sizes to how options are packaged have sales implications, Farley said. As a result, he must cooperate closely with Derrick Kuzak, Ford's group vice president of global product development.

"Derrick needed a thought partner on the customer side to make those decisions," Farley said.

Asia strategy

As part of Farley's role, Ford CEO Alan Mulally charged him with boosting Ford's sales in China and India.

"What we've done is expand his responsibility," Mulally said. "Now Jim can support especially our growth ... in the Asia-Pacific region."

To accomplish that, Farley said Ford has appointed two rising stars -- Chantel Lenard and Matt Bradley -- to lead Ford's dealer-development program for Asia Pacific and Africa.

"These are the people who have had to take dealers out, people who had been our partners for 75 years, and now they get a chance to build a network," Farley said.

Ford has about 400 dealers in China, Farley said. But Ford's market share through July was just 2%; in India, 3%.

"We have to have the right scale of dealer network to have those kinds of growth numbers," Farley said.

Tough questions

Farley's leadership of Ford's South America, Mexico and Canada operations from September 2009 until this past July 30 rounded out his management experience.

But there were challenges.

"It is always easy as a marketing guy to say, 'I want that design to look a lot better,' " Farley said. "It is a lot harder when you have to ask yourself that question."

Ford roots

Farley spent 17 years working for Toyota, where he eventually headed the Lexus brand.

But Farley's grandfather was the 389th employee hired at Ford, and a photo from 1918 sits in Farley's office beside photos of his wife and three children.

"When you talk to me, you are talking about someone who owes everything to Ford," Farley said.

Image builder

At Ford, Farley has recast the company's image as an automaker that offers better fuel efficiency and quality than many customers perceive.

In August, Kelley Blue Book said Ford is the most-considered brand among new-car shoppers with an overall brand consideration of 29% compared with 22% for Toyota.

And this year, Ford's U.S. market share has increased to 16.7%, an increase from 15.2% for the first eight months of 2009, despite cutting its global advertising budget from $5.4 billion in 2007 to $3.3 billion in 2009, according to the company's annual report.

Global Focus

In 2009, as part of its Fiesta Movement campaign, Ford gave 100 cars to people who actively use social media for six months and encouraged them to report their thoughts.

And in July, Ford showed its all-new Ford Explorer SUV at events across the U.S. and with heavy use of such social-media sites as Facebook and YouTube. Today, nearly half of Ford's ad dollars are spent on digital and social media, Farley said. Now, Farley is planning the 2012 Ford Focus launch.

"The last time we launched Focus we had 20 different campaigns and we spent approximately 10% of the ad budget on production," Farley said. "This time we will have fewer campaigns and ... spend 5% of our budget on production."



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