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Automotive safety continues to lag behind in influencing car-buying decisions-Rahul Gautam, Ford India

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Automotive safety continues to lag behind in influencing car-buying decisions-Rahul Gautam, Ford India

Ford India recently released its new campaign promoting road safety. In an interview with exchange4media, Rahul Gautam, VP, Marketing, Ford India, spoke about the company’s plans to leverage all paid, owned and earned media channels including social, digital, television, print, radio and mobile for its new campaigns through the year and why safety comes first for Ford


You came up with a campaign on Rakshabandhan last year, which also talked about road safety. How does this new campaign differ from that?

Safety is a priority for us at Ford, and we have tried to communicate that with both Rakhi as well as the recently launched safety campaign. Right from design phase to everything that we put in is centered on how our cars are meeting or beating the industry benchmarks. While the Rakhi campaign showcases how we take the safety of our customers seriously with up to six airbags onboard a Ford EcoSport, the new Safety campaign compels customers to prioritise the safety of their loved ones above everything else and choose wisely.

How is Ford leveraging digital platforms to reach out to its target audience for this recent campaign?

Ford has been at the forefront of embracing change. We have been one of the first companies to adopt a digital first strategy, ensuring that the brand is not just accessible but is also directly interacting with consumers on a real-time basis. The share of digital and social communication, which is fast emerging as a preferred communication tool for most consumers, has been steadily growing in our communication strategy. We are leveraging and previewing most of what we do on digital media and social channels first to target our audience.

 What kind of ad spends is Ford planning for this year?

While we don’t disclose our marketing spends, we will continue to follow an integrated communication approach and will optimally leverage all paid, owned and earned media channels including social, digital, television, print, radio and mobile for our campaigns through the year.

 The government is tightening safety norms for all automakers. What’s your take and how did it impact your communications for this campaign?

At Ford, the safety of our customers and their loved ones is a top priority. 60 years ago, Ford was the first automaker to offer factory-installed safety belts, and our legacy of safety innovation endures to this day. We are democratising — that’s our philosophy when it comes to safety. Today, we are the only vehicle manufacturer to provide up to seven airbags in some of our vehicles.  Besides, there’s a lot of technology which is going to make our vehicles safer, features like Sync (keeping your hands on the wheel, eyes on the road), and My Key. We are bringing them to the market much ahead of time, irrespective of the evolving industry or policy changes because we see it as our commitment.

 Can you share the key insights that you took into account before releasing the new campaign?

Despite one of the lowest vehicle penetration, 11% of all road accidents result in a fatality in our country. While these facts are common knowledge, automotive safety continues to lag behind everything else – from looks to mileage and even convenience features – in influencing car-buying decisions. The findings of a recent Twitter poll done by Ford showed that more than two-thirds (70%) of about 22,000 respondents didn’t rate safety as a top consideration while buying a car. This for us was reason enough to launch a campaign and bring about a change in mindset. It is a priority for us as a manufacturer, but likewise, it has to be the top priority for the consumer. Today Ford is making sure all our products with six-seven airbags are available at an affordable price. We are making it accessible, affordable and democratising across segments and with the latest campaign, want customers to prioritise safety, not as a choice but a priority.

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