DEARBORN, MI: Ford chief communications officer Mark Truby traveled to both Memphis, Tennessee and Frankfort, Kentucky, on Tuesday for events celebrating the auto brand making the largest single investment in its 118-year history.
In an $11.4 billion joint venture, Ford is investing $7 billion and South Korean battery cell supplier SK Innovation is spending $4.4 billion to create three BlueOvalSK battery factories: one in Tennessee and two twin factories on a $5.8 billion, 1,500-acre campus in Glendale, Kentucky, that are anticipated to generate 5,000 jobs.
In Stanton, Tennessee, Ford is building Blue Oval City, a $5.6 billion, 3,600-acre site to assemble F-Series electric vehicles and batteries, projected to create 6,000 jobs. The industrial grounds will house one of the BlueOvalSK factories.
Despite the staggering price tag and optimistic job-creation predictions, Truby described the events as community celebrations.
“First, Ford is going to lead the electric vehicle revolution in the United States. No. 2, we're going to continue to invest in American workers,” said Truby. “And No. 3, you're going to love the vehicles when they come out. They are going to blow people away.”
Similar to when President Joe Biden test-drove Ford’s new electric pickup truck, the F-150 Lightning, the automaker’s investments received significant media attention. With issues touching on the economy, the environment, international trade and jobs, outlets including the NBC Nightly News, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, CNBC, The Washington Post, Reuters, Bloomberg as well as Car and Driver, EcoWatch and local media picked up the story.
Truby and his team started laying the groundwork six weeks ago. Imagination PR organized events and longtime partner WPP assisted Ford's in-house communications team on PR.
“We thought it was important to have a national presence for the story. So we briefed the media in advance, from the automotive and financial sectors to local media to technology, and the electric vehicle press,” he said. “We did an extensive job of trying to educate and inform the press.”
Ford also worked with creative shop Wieden+Kennedy to promote the factories by creating a short film, narrated by actor Don Cheadle and directed by Terrence Malick. The carmaker played the video during the Tennessee and Kentucky events and shared it on social media. Even Environmental Defense Fund president Fred Krupp took notice, tweeting the news.
I don’t often get excited about commercials, but @Ford is making the electric vehicle commitments to back up the stirring rhetoric: $11.4 billion/11k jobs goes a long way (on top of earlier investments of $7 billion+ for 7k new jobs in EV manufacturing) pic.twitter.com/DODT2FcJDz— Fred Krupp (@FredKrupp) September 28, 2021
“Wall Street immediately reacted positively. But just as importantly, communities, our customers, we needed them to understand where we're going and why we're doing it,” said Truby.
Ford reported Q2 2021 net income of $561 million, down from $1.1 billion in the same time period in 2020, but revenue of $26.8 billion up from $19.4 billion in the year before as the global semiconductor shortage hit its bottom line.