Global Brand Crisis for Ford

Unapproved Ad Proves Troublesome for Global Auto Manufacturer

Ford addresses global brand crisisA “speculative” advertisement for the Ford Figo, created by JWT India and never approved for release by Ford Motor Company, has created a global brand crisis for JWT and Ford. The ad, released online and swiftly removed, depicts women bound and visibly upset in the trunk of a Ford Figo, with former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in the front of the vehicle.
While the advertisement’s depiction of women seems clearly beyond the pale to many, it comes at a particularly sensitive time in India, on the heels of several episodes of violence against women that have received massive national and international attention.
At Crimson Hexagon, we used the ForSight platform to assess the magnitude of the global crisis, in the United States and the UK. Using our opinion algorithm, we analyzed only tweets relevant to the Ford Figo ad incident from Twitter and Facebook.

UK Twitter and Facebook Posts Relevant to JWT India Ford Figo Ad
Ford JWT UK Twitter Volume

US Twitter and Facebook Posts Relevant to JWT India Ford Figo Ad

Ford JWT US Twitter Volume

Let’s put these numbers into perspective. During Women’s History Month in March, Ford used social media to promote visibility of women in corporate leadership at Ford Motor Company and Ford’s international women’s health initiatives. We can compare the volume of posts relating to Ford’s Women’s History Month campaigns to the brand crisis around the degrading images of women. Using Forsight, we determined there were 310 relevant posts about the Women’s History Month campaign and Ford.

UK and US Twitter and Facebook Posts Relevant to Women’s History Month and Ford

Ford brand on Women's History Month

This gives a sense of magnitude, but what are people saying about the ads? Perhaps the public recognizes that Ford never meant for the ads to be shown in public; perhaps, in effect, there is no crisis at all. However, we find that is not the case.

We used our patented algorithm to analyze which aspects of the brand crisis generated the most conversation and outrage on social media. After the ad surfaced online, Ford apologized on March 22 for the ad, saying that it “never should have been created.” News media continued to report on this development up until the next phase emerged: JWT would fire staff responsible for creating the offensive material.

Our social media analysis shows that people have tracked each phase of this brand crisis, posting and tweeting about the steps that JWT and Ford are taking to rectify the situation. They also voice negative opinions about the episode. It is notable that opinions minimizing the incident or defending Ford and JWT are not statistically significant in this analysis.

In the United States, most people who used social channels to share news about the Ford Figa ad incident shared news about Ford’s apology.

Ford and JWT ad brand crisis sanalysis in US

In the UK, more social media conversation had to do with the topic in general than in the US. This graph of the proportions of conversation in the UK from March 22 to March 27 shows that the specific news stories about the apology and the JWT staff’s dismissal are gaining more of the share of conversation. In addition, as a proportion of the conversation, more negative opinions are being expressed as time goes on, whereas at the beginning of the brand crisis, more of the conversation consisted of simply sharing news items.
Ford Brand Crisis Proprotion in UK
As the brand crisis continues to unfold and JWT and Ford continue to take action to manage their brand reputation, Crimson Hexagon will keep watch in this space of opinion. As always, follow us on Twitter @crimsonhexagon for updates.

Request a Demo

Ready to transform your business?

Get a walkthrough of Crimson Hexagon and learn how consumer insights can help you make better business decisions.