I was reading Scoble's post about Ford's attempts to use the blogosphere to help them overcome the fact that their cars just plain stink.
So, OK, it's all right with me if Scoble decides to hawk Ford PR's blog, and it's professionally-produced-to-look-verite documentary (which is too slick to be real, too manipulative to be credible and which defines sycophant, as all the "heavy discussion" in the room revolves around the senior exec).
But what's not OK is how Ford responds to the New York Times lambasting they took last weekend:
"We here at FordBoldMoves.com understand exactly what social media is and how important the 'social' part of that phrase will be going forward."
You know, I love Led Zeppelin, and I do a mean air guitar on "Whole Lotta Love." But it doesn't make a single note come out of thin air.
And Ford — so dumb as to cancel the only cars they have high loyalty with, the somnolent Town Car — can wave its arms all it wants about understanding online communities, but they'll never, ever get it.
I've worked in these giant corporations. And they do sit around their desks trying to be hip, and cool, and blog-y. But they never really want to be other than what they were before: successful on their own terms. Understanding social media means not being corporate. It means having something really interesting to say. It means being able to "take it." Does anyone really believe Ford can take it? If so, why is their blog registration only?
IBM tried this with OS/2. First they had the "OS/2 Fiesta Bowl" in which college football players got tackled on OS/2 logos painted on the field. Then they tried "OS/2 Ambassadors" which was the early 1990's version of community.
IBM ultimately gave up on the attempt to grasp community and on a product nobody wanted. Ford will do the same thing when the coolsters on their marketing staff have had their fill of trying to follow the directions from the 64-pound box of Madison Ave. brand "Whipped Internet Community Mix."
Mr. Fields: build cars people want, build them well. Let your engineers talk, not your PR people who so very much want to make you feel good about Ford (and who, apparently, are succeeding despite the real downward spiral your company is in).
Stop trying pretending to know something about community; it only makes you look even more pitiful, like Grandma in a mini-skirt and knee-high boots.