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Ford works hard to change consumer perceptions

DETROIT -- Ford's effort to dispel the idea that Asian vehicles are of higher quality than American vehicles isn't easy or inexpensive.

Ford's Ken Czubay told analysts earlier this week that trying to close that perception gap has “added 20 percent to our advertising budget.”

Ford spent about $1.5 billion in advertising last year, down from $1.9 billion in 2008, according to Kantar Media figures published in Advertising Age, an affiliate of Automotive News.

But Ford is willing to ante up extra money because it is imperative to “attack the perception,” said Czubay, who heads Ford Motor Co.'s U.S. marketing, sales and service.

Ford's “Drive One” TV ad campaign helps because it uses testimonials from real drivers speaking about the quality of Ford's products, he said. He also listed Ford's gains in quality rankings by J.D. Power and Associates as a step forward. But work remains.

“Getting the message across these days is very complex,” Czubay said. “We're working hard on that.”

As I watch this process I can't help but be reminded that it takes a lot of work and time to win respect and only minutes to lose it. And losing it can last a long time.