Ford upsets bloggers more; no sign of an apology in the horizon!

One of the things that upsets me the most in life is when someone makes a mistake then ignores it completely – like nothing’s happened – instead of standing up and take responsibility for his actions. While individuals may – sometimes – get away with it, I don’t think that companies, especially big ones like Ford Motors, should be spared off the hook.

It is as simple as this: You make a mistake, you offend people, you apologize. 

After offending the whole ME blogsphere by stating that there isn’t enough bloggers to replicate their successful Ford’s Fiesta’s social media campaign in the US, and after the uproar of angry bloggers for the ignorant comment of Ford’s officials in the region, one would expect a damage-control in the form of a simple APOLOGY.

Ford upsets ME bloggers

Ford upsets ME bloggers

 

 

Instead, Ford ME managed to make things worse. Their PR agency contacted Dima Hamadeh, the writer of the Business 24/7 article in which she mentioned Ford official‘s comment about ME bloggers, and asked her about her source of information. Surprisingly enough – to them of course – the source is Ford themselves! That triggered a very valid question posted by Dima Hamadeh on Fake Plastic Souq blog :

Aren’t clients and their PR agencies supposed to be on the same page?

Not only that, but also Theo Benson, Ford’s ME marketing and product manager, shows up – also on Fake Plastic Souq blog -, corrects some information regarding the online auction (on a special edition of Ford Fiesta car they did at souq.com) and states that they haven’t undertake a full-fledged blogger outreach program. All of that without any explanation of why they haven’t undertake such a program and with complete disregard to the angry bloggers in the region – as if they still don’t exist in Ford’s ME horizon -.

Ford Motors USA, you need to step in! HSBC faced the same ordeal with their students’ interest fiasco. Eventually they had to reverse all of their decisions and apologize for their clients because they couldn’t face the consequences of their mistake which got hyped up by social media. There are already calls for @scottmonty (head of social media at Ford) on twitter to step in and help Ford ME:

@floatr : @arun4 thanks for pointing me to it. Maybe @scottmonty could give the lot at Ford Middle East a tip or two. #fiestamovement

I think Seth Godin was the one who said  one of the main differences between traditional marketing and word of mouth/viral marketing is that once you start it, you cannot end it when you wish. You have to wait for it to die out”.  When it is bloggers who bad mouth you, you need to step up and try to correct that before serious damage affects the reputation of the company because it isn’t dying out any time soon.

There are already bad comments which are now even questioning the quality of Ford’s cars. measuredPR said on UAE community blog 

If Ford did not tap the UAE Community Blog, they obviously did nothing. Claiming that there aren’t enough bloggers in the Middle East is almost like claiming that Ford makes good cars. Absurd!

I honestly don’t blame people for such comments. When a company fails to communicate adequate public relations, then it is natural for people to question the company’s efficiency, including their core products.

Ford Motors USA, move your behinds! Maybe it’s time to do some organizational changes at your Middle Eastern offices? 

Ford ME, bloggers are demanding an apology, so just give it to them!

Comments and Reactions

  • http://blog.thoughtpick.com/ Beiruta

    Dear Fadi…

    Thank you for caring to speak up on the behalf of others, those who are otherwise ignored by the bog complacent giant companies who think they are unshakable and tend to dismiss the fact that they are what they are now because of our support and the money we have invested in them!

    I guess you and many others have the right to expect an apology, the minimum Ford could do at this time!

    Big companies like Coca Cola, Pepsi, Boeing, and many others have made mistakes, some where huge mistakes which caused people to die, yet they fixed it by apologizing and admitting their mistakes because they care, not personally I'm sure, yet about the well being of their overall business operations globally.

    Thanks again for sharing your opinion.

  • http://kedariyer.com floatr

    Scott Monty understands social media all too well to realize that an apology without humility and real corrective action will be meaningless from Ford Middle East.
    After the recently published report on poor customer service of brands in the region, most brand custodians wondered why their brands were penalized. But when you investigate by asking them when was the last time any brand listened to its users, the answer is never. Customer service starts with listening to your customers, helloooo???!
    Let's hope your efforts will create change for the better.

  • http://blog.thoughtpick.com/ FadiPick

    Hey Beiruta, well it does really upset me when something like this happens. It is not just that they disregard all the bloggers in the middle east but they have also ignored the reactions of bloggers like nothing has happened!

    It is funny when you see the same company realize the power of bloggers at one side of the ocean and ignore it completly at the other side! Shouldn't the whole company have the same policy?

    floatr, I guess that you are right. They should get Scott Monty to ACT! There is already a lot of damage caused by the stupid comment. Customer service starts with listening to your customers, that is so true!

    Let's hope they are listening!

  • http://scottmonty.com scottmonty

    Apologies for not getting to this sooner; I was on holiday last week and chose to (mostly) unplug. After reading some of the posts and comments, I can see why there are some negative reactions.

    As you can imagine, Ford is a large company and there are a lot of projects that are handled by agencies as well as by region-specific staff, and we're all at different points on the learning curve. The Fiesta Movement in the U.S. is one of the most progressive social media projects underway; at other areas within the company, we're learning to develop different digital materials to support our activities.

    Blogger / digital influencer outreach is a bit of an art; everyone comes to it from a different perspective and has a unique approach on how to make it work. It would be very awkward for me at the corporate level here in the U.S. to be able to say how it should be done in the UAE. Clearly, we could have done more to research and interact with such individuals as part of the program – if we wanted to make that a part of our effort on the Fiesta in the Middle East. As my colleague in Marketing & Product Management for Ford Middle East said, a full-fledged blogger outreach program wasn't considered.

    Does that mean it shouldn't be considered next time? It will depend on the goals of the program and our ability to do it well. But I'm sure the fact that at least you and two other ME bloggers have taken the time to write about this will make us reassess how we approach it. It's this kind of interaction that helps us to learn.

    Thanks for being passionate about the subject.

    Scott Monty
    Global Digital Communications
    Ford Motor Company
    @ScottMonty

  • Mooncricket

    Hmm, Interesting.

  • http://blog.thoughtpick.com/ FadiPick

    Mooncricket, it is ineed :)

  • http://blog.thoughtpick.com/ FadiPick

    Scott, I am glad that this post managed to grab your attention. I hope that you had a good time in your vacation and are back now with fresh energy to follow up on this matter.

    I think that the issue here is not the decision of Ford not to undertake a full-fledged blogger outreach program in the middle east. It is more about the irresponsible comment of a Ford ME official about the non-existance of enough bloggers in the region to carry out such program. That is the source of anger for bloggers that is still neglected and brushed away.

    It is understandable that employees in different regions may be at different points on the learning curve, but shouldn't Ford head quarters ask people who they hire and who lack expertise in social media not to go public and speak in Ford's name? Shouldn't people at the company who is responsible for public relations to be better trained in social media so that to avoid such terrible mistakes?

    What we are asking Ford is a simple apology, or maybe an acknowledgement of the size and infleuence of bloggers in the region. I, myself, can see a successful replicate of the Fiesta movement in the US. Maybe you should explore this option.

    Hope this makes things clearer to you.

    We will be waiting for some action from Ford.

    Have a good day…

  • http://scottmonty.com scottmonty

    I appreciate the clarification. Personally, I haven't performed any research or investigation to truly understand the Middle Eastern blogosphere and its major influencers. I'm sure they exist, but I'm not sure in what forms or how widely read they are. I acknowledge there are bloggers in the region, but I can't say for certain how many, how influential they are, or what topics they cover. It could very well be that our regional managers determined that there wasn't a right fit for what they were trying to accomplish.

    To be honest though, the only anger I've seen on this issue has been contained on two blogs, and the only reason it came to my attention is because you DM'd me on Twitter. That should say something about the size & influence of the bloggers in the region right there – at least as it pertains to this particular situation.

    As far as the Fiesta Movement is concerned, it is something that is specific only to the United States, as it's a preview of a vehicle that is not yet produced in North America. As I understand it, the Fiesta is already available in the Middle East – so the notion of getting feedback on and building excitement for a not-yet-produced vehicle (the goal of the program) is not possible.

  • http://blog.thoughtpick.com/ FadiPick

    Scout, touché! I wish Ford ME said what they said in your way. Thanks for the
    well thought out reply. Hope to see you again around our modest blog :)

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