I have known Bob Rewey a long time, and I like the way he describes his job. No long titles. He says Ford Motor Co. paid him to move the iron. Simple: Just move the iron.
You can take all the definitions of marketing and hire all the brand managers in the world, but the facts are simple. The job is to move the iron. At Ford, that's a lot of iron, both in the United States and around the world.
Rewey had a very big job - bigger than most folks realize and probably bigger than the folks who are replacing him realize. He was involved in everything.
During the last U.S. sales slowdown - that time, it was a real recession - he said he sometimes thought he was connected at the hip to Ford Chairman Red Poling. Poling called him several times a day. I don't know whether Red wanted an hourly report, but it showed how important it is to sell cars, particularly when business is a mite slow.
All the people at Ford, General Motors and Chrysler have their work cut out for them because you probably can count on one hand the number of people at each company who understand that the bottom line is to move the iron.
I'm a great believer in marketing and advertising, but sometimes the purpose gets lost in the process. Too often, folks get involved with the idea of marketing rather than the result of marketing, which is sales.
Everything done under the banner of marketing is just one of the tools of selling - and there are many tools. Sometimes it seems that the automobile companies have so much money they search for bizarre communication projects on which to spend it, rather than stick to the basics.
The purpose of advertising is to bring people into the showrooms, but some programs are so far from having anything to do with moving the iron that you just shake your head and wonder.
Somehow, dealers know more about the effectiveness of advertising. Everything a dealer does is designed to bring traffic into his showroom. There is little room for anything else.
When things get a little tough, as they are now, I wonder whether anyone asks the simple question: Will this program move the iron?