Now-Amusing 1999 Article Reveals Ford's Strategy to Sell Focus to Punkers and Goths

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One wonders, when looking at the way things are run Stateside, from ann outside perspective, how people are not bothered by the constant name-calling, and finger pointing and the things they lead to...

It also appears that due to this, any action you may partake in (sometimes even unbeknownst to yourself) will automatically place you into a pie chart slice, printed and pinned up on a board at a meeting, where some marketing men and women are trying to sell you something which is fun, safe and politically-correct.

In the present day, the hand of marketing is much more subtle, as the field itself has advanced, along with technology, people and the products they sell – it’s a vicious cycle what we call progress, and the reality we have grown accustomed to. However, things were not always like this, and the further you look back in time, the more rudimentary the techniques get, and the more obvious their influence/message is.

And thus we turn back to the year 1999, and we see a better, more peaceful America, which around that time was welcoming arrival of an all-new compact hatchback bearing a Blue Oval badge, the now-commonplace Focus.

Back then, the art of finger pointing had not been fully correlated with all the possible product-selling connections, and they were still working out the bugs. Apparently, if you were to walk into a car dealership, in 1999, clothed in saggy attire, each piece with its own unique shade of faded black, nose or eyebrow piercings and an affinity for alternative rock, you would have been labeled a “punker” and it seems that there was a pretty good chance of the cops getting called to…escort you out? We imagine it being a bit like this.

This is where the hired minds of the ad people came in, explaining that while these odd-looking young people, most of whom even back then were very well-informed, also had the purchasing power to get into the aforementioned Focus, and once they grow up, will remain loyal to the brand and be shown into the driver’s seat of a more expensive and exclusive offering. Moreover, there were around 80 million of them in the US at the time, and even though “not all of them fit the punker or young gothic image,” according to an article published by Wards Auto in the same year, so the incentive for Ford was really strong.

Many meetings were organized, where the showroom staff would be played videos telling them not to discriminate, in an effort to try to at least partially understand where these people are coming from. Nowadays, folks are a bit more progressive and this ceased being a direct topic probably very shortly after said meetings took place. Marketing still works in the same way, though, and if anything, people are even more outspoken through their clothing today, than in 1999, but instead of giving them silly name (pointing a finger) like "Echo Boomers," they are now taken for what they are – young people. It would be nice if automakers began actually making cars for people, instead of trying to mold the people after their products, and that way everybody would win in the end.

By Andrei Nedelea

Story References: Jalopnik

Note: Opening photo is the Ford Focus FR200 project from the 2000 SEMA Show


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