“Go Further With Ford.” Is Ford grammatically correct? Part 2, The Response.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Hi. Some months ago, I wrote a piece that challenged the use of “further” in Ford’s campaign. Last Friday, having never received the 2013 Ford Fiesta I requested for having pointed out the error of their ways, I emailed Ford corporate’s advertising department to make sure they’ve read my article. They’re busy, and I guess it’s possible that they missed it.

I would look great in this car.

I would look great in this car.

I stopped short of explaining the importance setting a good example by using correct grammar in their commercials, not wanting to sound as if I were lecturing them.

Just two days later, which is impressive, I received the following email response. Read it over, and let me know what you think and how I should respond. Please be kind. I’m still holding out hope that they’ll send me the car.

-wf

Thank you for contacting Ford Motor Company. We appreciate the time you have taken to write us regarding our Go Further campaign.

Go Further is Ford’s Global Brand Promise that was announced April 30, 2012 and ads began airing in the U.S. on national television that evening. While Go Further will be used in Ford’s marketing and advertising, it is not a tagline but, put simply, a description of Ford’s culture. It’s who we are and who we have always been. It’s also what makes Ford different from any other automaker because it promises that we are always going to go further to deliver great products, a strong business and a better world for each other and for our customers. Our One Ford business model and the four product pillars (Quality, Green, Safe, Smart) remain unchanged and support the Go Further brand promise.

Ford has a history of people working together to develop ingenious, attainable products and services that make people’s lives better. The goal of people serving people is what makes us unique.

Go Further means going where no one expects a car company to go by delivering the best in Quality, Green, Safe and Smart products.

Go Further means partnering with our dealers, collaborating with our suppliers, serving our communities and empowering every employee to make a real difference in our company.

Go Further means continuously improving quality, customer satisfaction and favorable opinion to increase value for all our stakeholders.

Go Further is who we are. Go Further is what we do.

Going along with our Go Further campaign, many of our new 2013 models now feature our class-exclusive SYNC and MyTouch technologies which give you the convenience of hands-free communications to ensure the safest driving experience possible. Several new models also feature our new EcoBoost engine technologies providing all the power our drivers crave without sacrificing on fuel economy.

If you are in the market for a new Ford or Lincoln vehicle, please contact our Marketing Program Headquarters at 1-800-334-4375. We are here Monday – Friday, 9 A.M. – 6 P.M. EST to assist you. When you call, we can send you a new vehicle brochure as well as set up a demonstration drive at a time and dealership of your choice to experience the vehicles first hand.

Thank you for contacting Ford Motor Company.

Sincerely,
Raul
Ford Motor Company
Ford Marketing Program Headquarters

Me again. Someone just asked me if I wrote the response. No. I didn’t make this up. What you just read is exactly the text of the email Ford sent me. If I had, written it that is, I wouldn’t have been clever enough to pick “Raul” as the person who wrote it. -wf

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38 responses to ““Go Further With Ford.” Is Ford grammatically correct? Part 2, The Response.

  1. Hmmm, the double-speak sounds simple enough. Ford doesn’t REALLY go farther – cars don’t actually go farther, they don’t actually go farther for their customers, etc. Really, it is all in the their minds, figuratively speaking; they WANT to go further but know they cannot go farther than they have already… Which is why they chose to be factually correct when using the word “further” instead of “farther”… Will you further the conversation or do you think you have taken it as far as it will go?!

    • Thank you, Wendy. Thank you for making it perfectly clear what Ford is trying to say.

      Does this mean I won’t be getting my red Fiesta?

      -wf

  2. Despite Ford’s rationale for the use of “further,” most people would have no clue that Ford is attempting to go “further” in all aspects of its business. The public equates cars with distance — so go “farther” (on a tank of gas) makes more sense to potential customers. Ford’s response was self-serving and bloated in my opinion.

  3. Hi. Thanks for the comment, Joy. That response I received was, no doubt, from some relatively low-level customer service person, probably using some pre-approved material. Judging from its most recent commercial that I’ll feature in another post (“Part 3”), Ford Corporate (through its ad agency) seems oblivious to technical issues of grammar, or maybe they’re just trying avoid admitting the error and sending me my bright red, fully equipped Fiesta. That must be it.

    -wf

  4. This reminds me of that scene from A Christmas Story. “A crummy commercial? Son of a —!”

    • To clarify: “This” can refer to either the original Ford commercial OR the lousy Ford response to your inquiry. Forgive my vague pronoun reference.

      • Hi. I’ve talked to a whole bunch of people, not one of which thinks “further” is correct, and yet Ford keeps running new ads featuring the same tag-line.

        I even wrote to the local NBC investigative reporter, thinking some lighter story about grammar and the quality of education in America, whatever, might be a welcome alternative to their usual depressing fare, but no luck. (Is it any wonder they’re giving up teaching cursive in our public schools? What’s next? They’ll stop teaching people how to talk and that’ll be that?)

        I don’t suppose you know Ford CEO/President Alan Mulally? Maybe William Ford, Jr.? Geez, I was really looking forward to driving that red Fiesta.

        Thanks for your comment.

        -wf

  5. I’m actually on board with dropping cursive. The use of cursive is not related to higher level inquiry, especially in a digital world. I want my students to be able to think, analyze, and solve. The current outrage over the loss of cursive makes me wonder if once upon a time, stonemasons wept over the discontinuation of rock slabs and chisels.

  6. Uh, well, we’ll have to agree to disagree. (Don’t you just hate it when people say that? Sorry, but I couldn’t help myself.)

    If they don’t teach cursive, how will our new graduates be able to read cursive that other people are still writing? How will those graduates write anything if they don’t happen to have a keyboard and screen handy? Is it the end of Post-Its? (Should I short my 3M stock?!) Will they still teach printing and, if they do, isn’t it sloppy printing that gave birth to cursive in the first place?

    I don’t like the idea of a society that is entirely dependent upon advanced technology, requiring external power, to communicate. No, I don’t weep the demise of the stone tablet, or the last generation iPad. My concern is about the end of self-sufficiency.

    Just out of curiosity, what is it that they’re now teaching in all the time they’re going to save by not teaching cursive? Probably the difference between farther and further.

    You know, I still think the sentence diagramming I learned in what they used to call “Junior High” was one of the most important things I was ever taught.

    -wf

    • Students can and do still print, and the threat of not being able to read cursive is slim. They can read it. Most people who write in cursive do so in a modified version, blending elements of print and cursive as they see fit. What are educators teaching in place of cursive? Well, for one thing, digital technologies alone have expanded to be a major force in our world, and students need to learn how to be productive and safe when working digitally. Research verifies that the best time to teach typing is between 2nd and 4th grade. That alone replaces the time we once devoted to cursive. Add to that the Common Core and the increasing demands of teaching ALL students to meet proficiency, and it’s easy to see why elementary teachers are willing to ditch cursive. Hand-writing will never fade entirely. We just have a new balance now.
      We can agree to disagree. I love your commitment to the distinction between further/farther, even if you have a somewhat neo-Luddite view on the cursive issue. 😉 That is intended as a joke, and not as an insult.

  7. Don’t worry. I’m not the least bit offended. Quite to the contrary, I can’t tell you how pleased I am to hear an educator explaining so clearly the practical foundations of changes to our public school curriculum. As a way over-educated product of the public school system, I can personally testify to how intellectually, socially and economically irrelevant most of what I learned has turned out to be. My wife and I have often wondered how all that time could have been put to better use, with what positive impact on the quality of all our lives. …If I suddenly sound too serious, it’s the new grandfather in me talking. He’s not 18 months old. “If only,” I think to myself, “I could teach him a fraction of what I’ve had to learn for myself because the schools I attended decades ago didn’t have the common sense or vision.”

    Thanks again for your comments.

    -wf

  8. And I am delighted to chat with someone who is thoughtful and open to hearing a differing opinion. Best of luck to your grandchild. Perhaps even Plato and Socrates would have agreed that school can only ever take anyone so far, and then “life” becomes the true teacher.

    • Hi. One last postscript. It wasn’t life lessons I was talking about. My principal concern about public education is its failure to teach or train so many of our children to communicate effectively, verbally and in writing. I believe that communication is an essential skill that is not only built upon intelligence, but encourages it. I believe that people who communicate well tend to accomplish more and are more successful in every aspect of their lives, personally and professionally. That the better you communicate, the more you learn from listening. That superior communication skills gives them opportunities they will otherwise be denied, that it broadens the intellectual and emotional universe they will be able to explore, in a good way. And it’s not about everyone sounding the same. It’s about the ability of people to convey information, ideas and emotions in clear and even interesting ways. Advanced math and science, foreign languages, etc., can be learned later, as needed and depending upon the child’s interests. But to communicate well has got to be one of the first and most essential objectives of childhood education.

      -wf

      • I am a high school English teacher. The teaching of communication skills (written and oral) dominates my day. I couldn’t agree with you more about their importance!

  9. Ford is saying that they will go and are going the “distance.” Is that not farther?

  10. Hi. You bet it’s “farther,” and everybody knows it, except Ford. Let’s hope their technology is better than their grammar.

    Thanks for stopping by.

    -wf

  11. If you can use “farther,” don’t use “further.” Also, substitute “far” for the questioned word. How about, “He spoke further on the matter”? “Farther” wouldn’t make sense; neither would “far”!

  12. SO glad to see everyone weighing on on this subject! Wow! Every time the commercial comes on, I have to mute it! It is very offensive to my education and my brain. I will never buy a Ford until they learn how to speak correctly – just makes me wonder about the quality of their cars – thank you for confirming everything that I had thought all along.

  13. Guess them cars can go a fur piece down that road.

    • Hey, Terri. You know, I think it’s high time I did more to bring this little issue of grammar to Ford’s attention. Give me a few days. I have an idea.

      Thanks for the comment.

      -wf

  14. I, too, think Ford blew it. Now they’re trying to rationalize and justify their blunder…not backing down. You can have their Fiesta. I want nothing from a company that can’t even hire well-educated professionals to oversee such a public expression of “who they are.” I get irked every time I see one of their ads.

    • Me too, but getting the Fiesta would still be nice. I think it says more about our educational system overall than about Ford in particular. What is Ford, after all, but a company of people who grew up and went to school in America, just like you and me?

      Thanks for stopping by.

      -wf

  15. Hmmm…. you realize how much it costs to launch a campaign, let alone un-launch it, then re-launch another? Even more costly: admitting your ridiculous mistake that you’ve spent tens of millions of dollars showing off to the world. Their explanation sounds like WAY too much nonsense for the average (*dumb*) person to connect/perceive, let alone to pick up on in the difference in spelling. My money’s on the theory that they had to come up with a catchy story to sell/make sense of a horrible grammatical mistake that made the company look very stupid. Easiest way to backtrack and clean up the mess. You really think their target audience is going to pick up on the farther/further difference and be impressed? Please.

  16. In Raul’s lengthy and disconcerted rationalization he provided you he consistently cites the means in which Ford goes further in their culture, products, BS, etc. However, their use of the “go further” nomer is actually as a directive to us, the observer, the consumer, suggesting that with Ford we go [further]. As such, Raul’s explanation further validates your correction. Ford does not say “Ford is going further” … they state” Ford, Go Further”. If, as it appears, they are speaking to their audience, there is no other interpretation than with Ford we can go [farther]. Surprising just how simple an entire management team can be.

    • Well said, Charles. I like the way you think. Ever considered running for (instead of from) Congress? -wf

      • Did you ever proceed with Part 3?

        From the first I felt Ford was incorrect… also, I’m almost certain there was another car company (perhaps to point out the error) who ran a commercial about “going farther”. Cannot find it (sadly).

  17. WF: The first time I heard the Ford commercials, I cringed. So often I hear on the radio or TV announcers confuse further and farther. I suppose it is just another example of grammar ignorance or stupidity, kudos to those who know the difference. Next we will hear that when driving a Ford you will see “these ones” and that you “seen him today”.

  18. Nissan uses farther – clearly a lot smarter company! I have said to many friends, family, neighbors, customers, etc., and all agree not to consider a Ford vehicle until the ads are changed! Just to deepen my wounds, now our local electric company is misusing the word further! I mute theTV when either commercial is on – it makes my skin crawl. Furthermore, I am thinking of starting a grammar blog for words, phrases or expressions that are so poorly used or are misused!

  19. Apparently I am not up to speed on vehicle ad campaigns because last night during the Super Bowl was the first time I’ve seen Ford’s “Go Further” slogan. I have been ranting about it all day to my students, fellow teachers, and anyone else who will listen. No one else seems to think it is downright insulting to the American public who actually know the difference between further and farther.
    I came home this afternoon intent on writing numerous letters and emails until I reached someone who would explain to me why this blatant disregard to English grammar was allowed to be aired on national television, and what were they going to do to fix it, and when they wanted me to report to my new position as Chief Copy Editor for Ford Motor Company.
    Lucky for me I found your posts and saved myself the time and trouble. And seeing how you have yet to receive your Fiesta, I probably should not turn in notice to my principal just yet.
    I can’t stop thinking about the damage this is doing to these two already misunderstood words. For years I have taught my students that they can go FAR in a CAR. Sadly, I will now have to amend my lessons and say they can go FAR in a CAR as long as it isn’t a FORD!

  20. Ford is correct. The main goal of any car company isn’t that their cars will travel farther than any other brand (which would be the only reason to use the word “farther” in this instance that I can think of). Even though traveling farther is one of the goals, as a group all of the other goals are measured in units of a more abstract nature; thus, the grammatically correct word would be “further.”

    • Hi. Good morning. (It’s 9:20 AM ET where I am.) I have to say that you’re the first person to argue that “further” is correct. And I get your point, but don’t agree with you on practical grounds.

      While I thoroughly respect your technical analysis of the grammar, I think you’re giving Ford and its advertising agency way, way too much credit. Most, if not all advertising, is about conveying a clear message to people (viewers) assumed to have ordinary intellectual abilities deployed in the context of limited spans of attention – and communicate that message in a matter of 30 seconds or less, while the viewer is making a sandwich, checking his/her email and/or who knows what else.

      “…a group of all of the other goals are measured in units of a more abstract nature”? Maybe in great literature, but mainstream television advertising? I don’t think so. I think it’s far(ther) more likely that Ford is talking about miles per gallon on concrete or macadam and about durability, down the road of life.

      -wf

  21. should have been clever and played with the farther further contrast in the add. maybe go farther to further etc. might have even had a catchier memorable rhythm to it. It hurts to hear the add as it is now

  22. Kristina Wieghmink

    The “Go Further” Ford campaign bothers me every time I hear it; so I had to Google it. I love to write and I work in communications. I’m always trying to improve my grammar and writing. I completely agree that the campaign should be “Go Farther”. I think the reply Ford sent you was well crafted with fluffy details. However, it is a stretch of an attempt to try and cover up their grammatical error. With such a large and expensive campaign, they cannot go back on their message, but only stand their ground. I’m not defending them at all. I’m looking at this communication piece through their eyes.
    As a consumer, this grammatical error seriously reduces their credibility and deters me from becoming one of their customers. A company as large as Ford can afford to hire and pay marketing employees who speak and write proper English. Their brand and image depends on it. Sadly enough, I feel most people will not catch this error, let alone let it bother them. Our language today is filled with so many grammatical errors from television personalities and speaking face to face with people. Our local news station’s staff uses such terrible grammar, I’m tempted to call their studio; but I don’t want to appear to be an obsessive compulsive person.

  23. watch another of their commercials using the “Go Further” slogan. They use further correctly.

  24. Every time I see the commercial, it’s like fingernails on a chalkboard. Same as when my boss smiles at me and says, “Drive safe.”

  25. Reminds me of the neverr-ending rants of my HS English teacher in the ’60s with Winston cigarettes’ ad campaign of “Winston tastes good LIKE a cigarette should.”
    It drove her nuts!
    If I got anything from her tirades, I at least forever learned the difference between “like” and “as”.

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