When it comes to media brands, these are disruptive times. Companies have to ask themselves difficult, far-ranging, even existential questions.
Are you a radio station?
Are you a media brand?
Are you a local brand?
Can you be all these things?
Or are you something else?
It's not just the radio industry debating these issues. Technology and our social culture are undergoing immense change, compelling brands from fitness studios to restaurants to dental practices to grapple with issues they've never faced before.
How would you use an app to propel your business?
How can a website complement your brand strengths, generate leads, and build your customer base?
How can you provide a more personal, intuitive experience?
And what role can social media play in building connections with your audience or customers?
Car companies are facing many of the same challenges. For decades, there’s been nothing more scalable than the automotive industry. Everyone owns a car. Many own two or even three.
But it may not continue that way forever. And in fact, young people are leading the charge away from private ownership to a world of shared mobility that includes services like Uber and Lyft, as well as ride sharing and ultimately, cars that drive themselves.
After visiting CES last month and spending a lot of time in the North Hall with many different automotive brands, it is becoming clear that car companies are increasingly looking outward – away from the dashboard and toward the Internet of Things – a connected world that links different devices, gadgets, stores, homes, other cars, and even people to their cars.
As this transition goes on, it’s becoming more evident that calling these brands “automotive companies” is grossly limiting to what they’re evolving into.
And to that end, Ford will use a prime :90 slot in the Super Bowl this Sunday to deliver a new message – more like a statement of purpose – about its company, the road it's on, and what it now stands for.
“Go Further” has been Ford’s positioning statement. And now they’re taking their own advice and doing just that.
In an interview on the Ford website, CEO Mark Fields explained it this way:
“You’ve heard us talk about how we’re expanding business to be both an automotive and mobility company. But why are we doing this? It’s because the world is changing very quickly, and spinning faster than we’ve ever seen before.”
He notes that consumer perceptions on vehicle ownership and transportation are undergoing great change. That has caused the Ford team to “rethink our entire business model.”
Watch the commercial and reach your own conclusion.
Is Ford a car company?
Is Ford a mobility company?
Is Ford a transportation company?
Is it all of those things?
What problems is Ford solving for millions of people in the U.S. and around the globe today and in the next five years?
Ford is placing bets on an uncertain future, making sure it is properly positioned to provide mobility solutions down the road – whether they are cars, bicycles, or other modes of transportation.
Its recent purchase of Bay Area startup Chariot, a crowd-sourced shuttle service, is yet another indicator they wish to play in the shared mobility game.
Ford will tell you they don't have all the answers, and they may not have them all right. But they are boldly looking at their business model and asking fundamental questions.
Times like these demand new thinking, new innovation, and risk-taking. For forward-thinking brands, it means questioning their entire business model.
It is essential the radio industry does the same thing.
The car industry – and where it's headed – will be a key topic in a webinar we're presenting in partnership with the RAB next week: “The 10 Things We Learned At CES That Will Impact Radio In 2017 – And Beyond.” There is a fee to attend.
To attend the webinar on 2/7 at 11am ET, click here.
To attend the webinar on 2/9 at 4pm ET, click here.
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