Interview with Elena Cortesi, Global Brand Pillars Communication Manager in Ford Motor Company

Elena Cortesi a Francoforte

Date of interview: February, 26 2015

Professional profile: At Ford from 2000. She has worked as Area Manager, Dealer Manager and Fleet manager, used cars and CV.

Subsequently, as PR director in Italy, Elena has developed a social media strategy involving bloggers and community, becoming a benchmark in the sector.

On February 2012, she assumed the position of Director, Earned and Social Media, Ford Europa Communications and since February 2014 she’s hold the position of Global Brand Pillars Communication Manager at Ford Motor Company in Deaborn (USA), being responsible for the communication strategy and storytelling, at global level, of Ford Brand Pillars: quality, environment, security and technology.

Before Ford, Elena’s experience started as Corporate Account at Poltrona Frau and continued in Avionteriors.

In her opinion, the job is “passion, curiosity and entertainment. Everything followed by technical skills which are essential if you want to be taken into account.


Usually, when you find availability and clarity in human relations, you know that you are comparing with a giant in his profession. This was the feeling I had asking Dr. Cortesi, without any introduction and as a perfect stranger, her opinion from the heights of her international experience. Good reading and … leave a comment 😉

What are the differences, I mean in the approach to Social Media, among Italy, Europe and USA?
Social Media represent the voice of consumers and in terms of approach we should apply an aligned strategy that takes into account more the needs of users of a certain platform relative to another one rather than the geographical location. The distinction that can be taken into account is the different level of popularity of a platform in a given region compared to another.

You have a long experience in the field of Social Media: What is the best case history you would tell?
The variety of social media platforms to choose from, considering that each of them will produce results, represents a great opportunity. The best case history is definitely the one that is able to cover the largest number of platforms with a personalized message. In what is constituted the message or its alignment does not preclude the possibility of a more suited declination to each platform and consequently to the expectations of each user.


What are, in her opinion, the peculiarities of communication in different European countries? There are still significant cultural differences or saying Europe is like talking about a unique country?
The Europe, from a communication point of view, is a region with some specific peculiarities that are beyond the single cultures. The different Social platforms play a vital role – aggregating cultures they give the possibility of a coordinated dialogue.

By referring to the “global” car Ecosport, Ford faced the difficult challenge of creating a car which was able to satisfy different tastes. How difficult was succeed in realizing a communication campaign with a such comprehensive product?
Thanks to OneFord strategy, from several years Ford manufactures and markets the same vehicle in the world: Focus, Fiesta, Transit, Mustang and Ecosport.
The complexity of the communication campaign is faced with the aim of defining a “core” part in common and then leave a margin of flexibility for the specific needs of each country.

The claim is a “core” part and it must represent the territory where the vehicle will be included to, with the term territory I mean both the positioning in the market and the consumer’s need satisfied by the vehicle.

The other part is the creativity which must give continuity to the message so that the brand is recognisable by each consumer.

Defining New Media as the evolution of the media (and therefore treating them in the same way) is the biggest mistake that an automotive company can do. The connection that Ford has established with the New Media is one of engagement type or the traditional “old-fashioned”? (journalists)
Ford has established from the very beginning a relationship with the new media giving priority to the involvement of the same with new products in order to create spontaneous and transparent messages and activities. Many of the initiatives are aimed at “letting tell” the lived experience rather than report the event. This implies an important “experiential” content which can make live the contents of the product.

The campaign #celebrateFocus is one example.
We asked the current customers of Focus to share their opinions, memories and funny moments over the last 16 years since the launch of the Focus.
We, then, started off a conversation on line and the best stories were been made with funny illustration and video, and shared trough Social Media channels to surprise our social followers.

Translated by Federica Izzo

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