Media all over Ford about Explorer ads

DETROIT: Ford's new 2002 Explorer has barely rolled off the

assembly line but has already come in for extensive media scrutiny in

the wake of last year's Explorer accidents involving Firestone


A recent New York Times article criticized the planned Explorer

advertising for failing to focus on safety issues. A USA Today story

discussed the challenge Ford faces in convincing consumers the SUV is an

all-new vehicle.

However, Ford is planning to introduce safety messages in its PR for the

new model, although tactics are being kept under wraps. A Ford PR exec

working on the effort said she isn't ready to discuss the strategy for

getting those messages to the public.

Seasoned Detroit PR execs and crisis communications experts have said

Ford will need to walk a fine line discussing new safety features

without drawing attention to problems with the old Explorer.

Larry Smith, president of the Institute for Crisis Management followed

the crisis extensively last year and said the media seems more concerned

with the topic now than the public does. 'I don't think Ford has ever

been in as much trouble with the buying public as the media thought it

was,' Smith said. Still, he said, 'you would think with the issues

they've been facing that safety would be a selling point.'

- See Editorial, p. 8.

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