Who she is: Fontaine is the driving force behind Ford’s mission to get more people into its cars a key strategy as the company launches new vehicles including the 2009 Flex. Grassroots programs multicultural marketing the Ex Award-winning Warriors in Pink breast cancer initiative and placement in key TV programs from “American Idol” to Lifetime’s new series “Army Wives” are part of the plan. The Ford Experience Tour an 8 000-square-foot mobile marketing initiative brings entertainment prizes and Ford’s latest models to large venues like the Texas State Fair and Taste of Chicago. A smaller pop-up version supports dealers in local markets. This spring Fontaine organized 1 100 viewing parties across the nation for “The Big Drive ” during ABC’s charitable show “Oprah’s Big Give ” which led to 15 000 at-home test drives and donations of cash and vehicles to local communities.
The background: Fontaine has spent all 23 years of her working life at Ford which she joined straight out of college. She started in sales managing the wholesale business with its dealer network where she learned what makes customers tick and what helps sell vehicles. That led to national advertising 14 years ago and eventually to experiential marketing as Ford’s strategy has evolved to have product front and center for people to experience. “It’s well publicized that people who get in and drive a Ford are the believers ” she says. Among the newest drivers: celebrities Greg Grunberg (“Heroes”) and Teri Hatcher (“Desperate Housewives”) and others who as members of the charity Band from TV participated in a scavenger hunt challenge event to promote the Flex. Another program Insider Flex is a three-day five-city event that reaches small groups of influencers with trips to restaurants and local hot spots of course via the Flex.
Passion points: Fontaine grooves on the variety of programs she manages everything from placement on TV shows to changing consumers’ perceptions about the brand at grassroots events. “When you hear someone say ‘Wow! I will definitely consider a Ford now ’ you know that you’ve done what you set out to do ” she says.
Work/life balance: With a daughter who developed juvenile diabetes just before her seventh birthday work/life balance is an issue Fontaine has had to confront but Ford came through with the flexibility and support she needed to continue on the job. Fontaine is flexible as well willing to work from home in the evening when necessary. “It’s important to be upfront and honest and cognizant of other people’s needs ” she says.