Ford: Japanese Import (circa 1988)
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How Ford Touted Its Taurus as a \"Japanese Import\" in 1988
In 1988, Ford Motor Company launched a bold advertising campaign for its mid-size sedan, the Taurus. The campaign featured a slogan that claimed the Taurus was a \"Japanese Import\". But how could a car made by an American company be considered an import from Japan
The answer lies in the history of the Taurus, which was designed to compete with the popular Japanese sedans of the time, such as the Honda Accord and the Toyota Camry. The Taurus was developed with input from Ford's Japanese partner, Mazda, and used many components and technologies sourced from Japan. The Taurus also underwent extensive testing and refinement in Japan, where it was sold as the Ford Telstar.
Ford's marketing strategy was to emphasize the quality and reliability of the Taurus, as well as its innovative features, such as the aerodynamic shape, the anti-lock brakes, and the optional all-wheel drive. By calling it a \"Japanese Import\", Ford hoped to attract customers who were looking for a car that combined the best of both worlds: American style and performance with Japanese engineering and craftsmanship.
The campaign was successful in boosting the sales and reputation of the Taurus, which became one of the best-selling cars in America for several years. The Taurus also won many awards and accolades, including the 1986 Motor Trend Car of the Year and the 1987 Car and Driver Ten Best. The Taurus was widely praised for its innovative design, spacious interior, smooth ride, and handling.
However, not everyone was impressed by Ford's claim of being a \"Japanese Import\". Some critics accused Ford of misleading consumers and exploiting the popularity of Japanese cars. Some competitors also challenged Ford's claim, pointing out that the Taurus was still mostly made in America, with only about 15% of its parts coming from Japan.
Despite these controversies, Ford's \"Japanese Import\" campaign was one of the most memorable and effective advertising campaigns in automotive history. It helped Ford establish itself as a leader in innovation and quality, and it paved the way for other American carmakers to adopt similar strategies. The Taurus also influenced the design and development of many other cars, both domestic and foreign.
The Taurus was not the only Ford car that was marketed as a \"Japanese Import\" in 1988. Ford also used the same slogan for its compact car, the Tempo, which was also developed with Mazda's assistance and used some Japanese parts. The Tempo was sold in Japan as the Ford Topaz.
However, the Tempo did not achieve the same level of success as the Taurus. The Tempo was criticized for its bland styling, poor fuel economy, and lack of power. The Tempo also faced stiff competition from other compact cars, such as the Honda Civic and the Toyota Corolla. The Tempo was discontinued in 1994, while the Taurus continued until 2019.
Ford's \"Japanese Import\" campaign was part of a larger trend of American carmakers trying to emulate and compete with their Japanese rivals in the 1980s and 1990s. Many American carmakers formed partnerships with Japanese companies, such as General Motors with Toyota and Chrysler with Mitsubishi. They also adopted Japanese production methods, such as lean manufacturing and quality control. They also introduced new models and brands that were aimed at different segments of the market, such as luxury, performance, and sport utility vehicles.
These efforts helped American carmakers regain some of their lost market share and reputation in the domestic and global markets. However, they also faced new challenges from other competitors, such as European and Korean carmakers. The automotive industry remains one of the most dynamic and competitive industries in the world, where innovation and customer satisfaction are key to success. ec8f644aee