Ford Motor Co. today said that James D. Farley, group vice president
of Toyota Motor Co.'s Lexus Division, will be Ford's first chief
marketing and communications officer.
"We are thrilled to welcome one of the most successful and talented
leaders in the industry to the Ford Motor Company team," CEO Alan
Mulally said in a statement, confirming a story first reported in this
column today. "Jim Farley is well known for innovative marketing
strategies that connect great products to today's and tomorrow's
customers. Ford's quality and vehicles are now on par with the best of
the competition. We look forward to Jim's leadership to combine world-
class marketing with our world-class products worldwide."
The move is a signature appointment by Mulally, who has openly
criticized Ford's marketing efforts and signaled his desire to install
top marketing talent at the Glass House. Farley's arrival also will be
yet another high-profile defection from vaunted Toyota to a Detroit
automaker, suggesting that highly regarded industry pros see
opportunity in their beleaguered rivals.
"Farley is their superstar," a source familiar with the situation told
me today, adding that Ford has been talking with Farley off and on for
a year. "It's a done deal. This is a good move for us. This is the guy
we wanted. He has an engineering background."
The appointment of Farley, 45, was approved today by Ford's directors.
As the first head of global marketing and communications for Ford, he
would assume what is arguably the industry's most monumental marketing
challenge. Ford has foundered amid weak campaigns, discarded and then
revived brand names like Taurus, poor product definition and plunging
Under Mulally, an aerospace engineer and 37-year veteran of Boeing Co.
before arriving at Ford last fall, key marketing decisions -- such as
reviving the Taurus model name -- have been pushed by him, a engineer-
cum-CEO who understands his limitations in the marketing world.
It's hard to overstate the symbolism of Farley's appointment by Ford.
That a rising Toyota star, the head of Lexus and a founder of its
Scion youth brand would bolt the Japanese juggernaut for the
struggling Blue Oval is a testament to Mulally's leadership, the
strength of Ford's current lineup, the promise of its future products
and the upside in it all.
And unlike Chrysler LLC, which could use the opaque world of private
equity to woo Farley's old boss, Jim Press, from Toyota North America
to Auburn Hills, Ford is doing so in the more transparent world of
These moves are not accidental, but instead telegraph a determination
to land top talent at Detroit companies that have historically shunned
outsiders. Not anymore. Both Ford and Chrysler now are headed by
industry outsiders whose paths to the CEO offices here were paved by
their success elsewhere and their willingness to look outside their
new companies for the best marketing talent they can find.
Mulally, for one, has long been an admirer of Toyota. While head of
Boeing's commercial aviation unit, he studied its production methods
and adapted them to aircraft assembly. Nor is he shy about conceding
that the model he envisions for Ford -- "one Ford," built around the
promise of a solid Blue Oval, not ancillary, money-losing luxury
brands -- is the Toyota model.
Before heading Lexus, the nation's top-selling luxury brand, Farley
was group vice president of Toyota Division marketing. He was
responsible for all Toyota Division market planning, advertising,
merchandising, sales promotion, incentives and Internet activities. He
also served as vice president of Scion, Toyota's youth-oriented brand.
Farley, who earned a bachelor's degree from Georgetown University and
an MBA from UCLA, joined Toyota in 1990 in the strategic-planning
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Very interesting. First Chrysler lures Toyota's Jim Press away, and
now Ford grabs Farley. Either Toyota has an over abundance of talent,
is cleaning house after a string of recent recalls or maybe after
climbing the mountain to the #1 spot (it's easier to get there than
stay there) it's starting to come apart at the seams. We shall see...