DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. will tout in advertising its high scores on the closely watched Initial Quality Study by J.D. Power and Associates.
The scores will help erase the perception that Ford lags foreign rivals in quality, says Bennie Fowler, Ford's group vice president of global quality and new-model launches.
After the results were released last week, Fowler said he ran into Jim Farley, Ford's marketing chief. "He told me that the marketing potential for a day like today is huge, and he'll be sitting down with his people to talk about the results."
For the first time in the study's 24-year history, Detroit 3 brands on average scored higher than import brands. Power said domestic brands lead rivals in cars and pickups. Foreign automakers lead in crossovers, SUVs and vans.
The Ford brand jumped from eighth place in 2009 to fifth this year. Ford is the highest-ranked nonluxury brand of the 33 brands ranked in the study.
Power asks new owners to list problems in their vehicles, so the study measures perceptions as much as actual quality.
Fowler says the most effective marketing comes when vehicles "speak for themselves."
With high-quality vehicles, Fowler says: "Word-of-mouth starts to spread, and the data show up from a third-party standpoint.
"And that starts to change the perception of where you're at over time."