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Ford Not Targeting Families With Flex Ads

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Ford’s answer to the minivan will not be directly marketed to families, according to a story by Automotive News. The company’s new head of marketing, Jim Farley — previously of the trendiest of trend-setting brands, Scion — has revamped the marketing plan of this very important new model to focus on trendsetters instead of just the family market.

As an early example of this plan, Ford had a famous street artist decorate the white roof of the Flex in various urban themes at the recent New York auto show. Ford wants to get far away from the minivan stigma with the Flex, especially since it’s discontinued its own failed minivan, the Freestar.

It seems to me Ford should play up the minivan stigma to the hilt with the Flex.

If there’s one thing we hear most at, it’s “I want to be able to fit a bunch of kids and cargo, but I don’t want a minivan.” In fact, if I had a dime for every time I’d heard those words I could afford a new Flex myself. Starting at $28,295 before destination and handling, the Flex starts higher than any minivan on the market but is at the low end of the three-row crossover segment, which includes the GMC Acadia and Mazda CX-9. Unlike most minivans, it also has available AWD. If I had a nickel for every time we got the “I want a minivan with AWD” I’d eat lunch at Gibson’s every day. 

Ford should come out and say the Flex is the “cure for the minivan blues.” Show a row of bland-on-bland minivans at soccer practice broken up by a Flex smack dab in the middle. Bam — instant suburban envy. Heck, there’s a catchphrase right there: “Suburban Envy.” Ford is delusional if it thinks this 201.8-inch-long people-hauler — yes, it’s as long as a minivan — is going to play to the Mini Cooper crowd. It’s not and it shouldn’t. 

Consumers want honesty in advertising, and the suburban mom and dad know they’re not dashing off to catch The Arcade Fire on a Tuesday night. If Ford just said the Flex can fit all your family’s stuff in style, those moms and dads might listen.

Farley retools Flex marketing strategy (AutoWeek)

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Photo of David Thomas
Former managing editor David Thomas has a thing for wagons and owns a 2010 Subaru Outback and a 2005 Volkswagen Passat wagon. Email David Thomas

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