Chantel Lenard is not one to back down from a challenge. She’s a wife and a mom to two young girls, she holds degrees from both Purdue and Harvard and, yes, she did bungee-jump into a New Zealand river gorge on vacation once. Just once.
For Lenard, group marketing manager for global small and midsize cars, her latest assignment was a challenge all its own – bringing the customer’s voice to life as she helped develop the marketing strategies for the all-new Ford Fiesta, available this summer.
“For many years, small cars were a vehicle choice driven mainly by affordability,” said Lenard. “What we’re seeing now is a shift to small cars as a vehicle of preference – from ‘What I have to drive’ to ‘What I want to drive.’”
That shift in choice is actually a shift in attitude, she said.
“Customers told us ‘small’ shouldn’t mean ‘sacrifice’,” Lenard explained. “We anticipate that Fiesta will attract baby boomers moving down from larger vehicles, as well as youthful first-time new car buyers wanting style and technology. Fiesta will have the luxurious touches and the connective technology to attract and please both groups.”
Lenard and her team exponentially increased Fiesta pre-introduction brand awareness – a critical factor as the Fiesta nameplate had not appeared in the North American market for 30 years – by leveraging social media with the Fiesta Movement. This unique initiative put 100 social media activist agents into European-specification Fiestas and sent them on adventuresome missions. Agents chronicled their Fiesta experiences, resulting in more than 6.2 million YouTube views, more than 750,000 Flickr views and nearly 4 million Twitter impressions. The Fiesta Movement is now in its second chapter, with 20 teams of two agents each bringing Fiesta agent-generated content to new audiences.
The road to Fiesta
Lenard first came to Ford in 1992 and has held a variety of roles in purchasing, finance, strategy, marketing and sales. Other positions have included Ford SUV group brand manager and large car/crossover product marketing and strategy manager.
Lenard earned her bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from Purdue University and later took a leave of absence from Ford to pursue her MBA at Harvard University. While there, she realized how much she liked and missed the automotive industry.
“We went through more than 1,600 cases and companies, and there was no other industry that piqued my interest as much as automotive,” she said. “The complexity, the challenges and the large-scale impact on our national economy were all things that drew me back. But the biggest draw was the product. Few products evoke as much emotion and passion from consumers.”
Lenard said she recently has heard more positive comments about Ford.
“My personal favorite is, ‘I’ve never considered a Ford before, but I am considering one this time.’ That’s when you know you’ve done your job well – when we’ve delivered a compelling product, reached a new consumer, and turned him or her into an advocate for Ford. That’s what my job is all about.”
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About Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 198,000 employees and about 90 plants worldwide, the company's automotive brands include Ford, Lincoln, Mercury and, until its sale, Volvo. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford's products, please visit www.ford.com.
April 19, 2010