Ford Marketing Head: "F--- GM"
Justin Hyde—Ford's chief marketer Jim Farley has overseen some of the company's most important successes of the past few years, ones that have made it the most profitable automaker in America. How does he get motivated? By vowing to "f--- GM." UPDATED
The quotes come from early copies of "Once Upon A Car," a book about the Carpocalypse by well-respected New York Times reporter Bill Vlasic due to be published in October. Circulating widely among Detroit auto industry types, Farely's words are already causing a stir:
"What Jim Farley really wanted to do was kick the daylights out of General Motors. "I'm going to beat Chevrolet on the head with bat," he said with a slightly wicked smile. "And I'm going to enjoy it." There was a saying going around Ford: GM was like the kid who was born on third base and yells out, "Hey Ma, I hit a triple!" Farley and his fellow Ford executives and workers were ready to rumble."
...This was like the glory days again — Ford versus GM, let the better car company win. "We're going to beat on them, and it's going to be fun," said Farley. "F—- GM. I hate them and their company and what
they stand for. And I hate the way they're succeeding."
This may seem like typical corporate yo-mama speak, but after nearly a century of coexistence in the same city, Detroit's automakers have a Marquess of Queensberry-type code about competition, where public trash talking is taboo. (Even in commercials, the criticism is often soft-pedaled.) GM CEO Dan Akerson made several gaffes in his June interview with The Detroit News, but among the biggest was saying Ford "might as well sprinkle holy water" on Lincoln — even though he's right.
In response to the quotes, GM spokesman Jay Cooney told us:
"We would not have expected such crass words coming from Ford."
I bet the answer in other parts of GM involves swinging baseball bats.
UPDATE: We asked Ford if the company had a reaction, and this was the reply from spokesman John Stoll:
We have not yet seen the book and are unable to comment on the specific quotes. This is a passionate, competitive industry, and we respect all of our competitors.
It Turns Out GM And Ford Really Don’t Like Each Other | The Truth About Cars
Earlier this year when it seemed that a price war could be brewing in the US market, one of TTAC’s industry sources noted that the problem wasn’t strictly a question of business competition. Speaking on background, the source told us that
when speaking with old friends at Ford and GM, the level of mutual distaste for each other is very high…it seems to be getting personal. Lots of egos involved, [which] increases potential for short-sighted decision-making
At the time, I was willing to chalk up this animosity to the usual industry hyper-competitiveness (or at least a return to form after the lockstep mutual support of the bailout era), but it seems I should have paid more attention to our source’s concerns. As it turns out, the bad feelings between Detroit’s cross-town rivals has apparently gotten worse…
Jalopnik reveals that NYT auto reporter Bill Vlasic’s forthcoming book highlights just how uncivil the Ford-GM rivalry has become:
What [Ford marketing boss] Jim Farley really wanted to do was kick the daylights out of General Motors. “I’m going to beat Chevrolet on the head with bat,” he said with a slightly wicked smile. “And I’m going to enjoy it.” There was a saying going around Ford: GM was like the kid who was born on third base and yells out, “Hey Ma, I hit a triple!” Farley and his fellow Ford executives and workers were ready to rumble.
…This was like the glory days again — Ford versus GM, let the better car company win. “We’re going to beat on them, and it’s going to be fun,” said Farley. “F—- GM. I hate them and their company and what they stand for. And I hate the way they’re succeeding.”
Now I understand why people are forever accusing TTAC of “hating” one car company or another… it seems that behind a thin veneer of professional courtesy, the auto industry nurtures a viciously competitive streak that crosses into hatred and contempt for competitors. What a pity it is that competition isn’t enough any more, and that executives have to “hate what their competitors stands for” to motivate themselves. Isn’t taking pride in your own products and achievements enough?