A unique campaign to launch Ford Motor Co.'s smallest car in the U.S. helped launch Chantel Lenard into one of the automaker's biggest marketing jobs.
The "Fiesta Movement" used social media to build a fan base for the Ford Fiesta ahead of its arrival. It became a case study by Lenard's alma mater, Harvard Business School, and earned Lenard, who led the campaign, a promotion to oversee marketing for the company's Asia Pacific and Africa region.
In 2013, Lenard returned to Mich-igan as director of marketing for Ford's U.S. operations, just as the company was rol-ling out two of its most important vehicles, the redesigned Ford F-150 and Mustang. Ford says Lenard and her team are responsible for consumer and market insight, product strategy, price positioning and all "go-to-market" activities.
Lenard has led the introduction of several digital dealer tools and Ford's Digital Content Studio, which tries to engage consumers in the same sort of way that made the Fiesta Movement so successful.
The U.S. is Ford's biggest and most profitable market, but the demands of Lenard's position here almost seem like a respite after three years based in Shanghai, working across three continents and 13 time zones.
There, she co-led a team comprising 1,000 people in 11 markets. The assignment "required an incredible amount of stamina," she said.
"While I had a great deal of experience in Ford's global and U.S. marketing processes, I had no experience with Asian markets or consumers," Lenard said.
Presented the chance to return stateside, Lenard made a decision many fast-rising women in the business world wouldn't: She persuaded Ford to give her a six-month sabbatical to help her two daughters adjust to the move. She credits the time off with making her more focused and excited in her current position and the potential that still lies ahead.
-- Nick Bunkley