Ford is killing off the Mercury brand.
This news is getting a lot of attention today, with a big article on the front page of the Wall Street Journal, but it shouldn’t be a surprise. Mercury has been fading for years.
Indeed, the only notable thing here is just how long it took Ford to make the final decision.
Mercury is an old, well-known and famous brand. But it is a brand that hasn’t been relevant for a long time. What makes Mercury unique? What makes Mercury special? What is the difference between Mercury and Ford? Nothing.
Supporting a brand is expensive; it needs consistent marketing support, new products, product improvements and customer service initiatives. Without support, a brand will gradually fade away.
Ford hasn’t been investing in Mercury for a very long time. Job #1 at Ford these days is fixing Ford. With limited financial resources, Ford hasn’t been able to support to support Mercury.
I suspect Mercury survived as long as it did for two reasons. First, killing off a brand is unpleasant and expensive. You don’t just announce the decision and walk away; you have to unwind all the dealer relations, reassure current owners and liquidate the existing inventory. This takes time and money.
Second, brands are emotional. Some senior executives at Ford had a deep attachment to Mercury. They fought to keep Mercury alive until there was absolutely no reason to believe the brand could come back.
It is sad to see an old brand pulled from the market. But brands don’t always last forever and a cumbersome brand portfolio is a major problem.
Ford is making a difficult but very smart decision.