Ford taps veteran U.S. executive to head up Canadian marketing

A u.s.-born Ford marketing executive who honed his skills in the free-for-all California market has been picked to fill the senior marketing post at Ford Motor Co. of Canada.George Tardiff, whose new title is vice-president, general marketing, officially joined the Oakville,...

A u.s.-born Ford marketing executive who honed his skills in the free-for-all California market has been picked to fill the senior marketing post at Ford Motor Co. of Canada.

George Tardiff, whose new title is vice-president, general marketing, officially joined the Oakville, Ont.-based firm Jan. 1.

Tardiff replaces John Radford, a Canadian-born Ford executive who stepped into the role in 1990 and ably steered the company’s marketing department through one of the darkest Canadian recessions in memory.

During Radford’s tenure as head of marketing, Ford consolidated its dealer associations under more efficient provincial bodies, doubled its marketing research budget, pushed heavily into consumer leasing, and greatly increased its focus on sports marketing properties.

As well, it pioneered the use of infomercials by an automotive company, and developed an expertise in creating high-profile launch events for its new vehicles.

Radford named v-p

In recognition, Radford has been tapped as vice-president, sales, the second most powerful position in the company next to the presidency.

Tardiff, 46, realizes his performance will, inevitably, be compared to Radford’s, but the New Orleans-born, former u.s. Marine says he looks forward to the challenge of learning the ins and outs of the Canadian market, and devising strategies to beat back the competition.

Experience

And, he says if coming to Canada puts him in the hot seat, it’s not as though he hasn’t had experience selling cars in tough situations.

Tardiff’s most recent post with Ford was as head of marketing with Ford’s Lincoln Mercury division in California.

California is one of the oldest and strongest markets in North America for foreign car makers, and, as a result, it is one of the most difficult markets for the Big Three domestic car makers.

Tardiff, who majored in marketing at Louisiana State University in New Orleans and later studied business management at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Mich., says that having spent the past three years in California, he knows ‘what it is to be under the gun, and to have to do things differently.’

Before California, he also worked at Ford offices in St. Louis, Dallas and Cleveland.

Tardiff, who joined Ford in 1973, the year he left the Marines, says his experience selling vehicles in different areas of the u.s. has taught him the value of looking closely at regional markets, and exploiting the unique opportunities they offer.

Regional marketing fan

‘I’m a big proponent of regional marketing,’ he says.

Tardiff says one of his goals is to expand Ford’s offerings of option packages tailored to the needs of specific regions of the country.

When asked to supply specifics, Tardiff says he could not give them if he wanted to because he is just beginning to learn about the Canadian market.

But, he says it is a given he will continue Ford’s longtime strategy of focussing on key car lines and promoting its customer satisfaction message.

‘A big plus’

Tardiff says consumer awareness of Ford’s past customer satisfaction advertising ‘is a big plus,’ adding ‘We will continue placing increased emphasis on customer satisfaction.’

During the 1995 model year, Tardiff will oversee seven vehicle launches.

Ford’s combined car and truck sales in 1994 garnered the firm 21.7% of the total Canadian auto market.