Mr Ferrari PR, Jason Harris, was speaker for yesterday’s Coventry conversation. His presentation was centred on the Crisis Management and the recalls of Ferrari 458 Italia. Mr Jason Harris is the regional manager, communication and he also controls the north Europe, Scandinavian, Dutch as well as the UK market.
He began his presentation addressing the audience over exaggerated and distorted headlines in the newspapers.
Some news papers published headlines such as ‘Top ten Ferrari caught fire’. Mr Harris stated that out of these ten 458 Italia’s only three caught fire. The other seven incidents the cars were involved in were due to accidents and the incompetence of drivers.
The fault was detected as the bonding adhesive used to attach the heat shield to the wheel-arch liner. The glue melts when it is in proximity to very hot temperatures. The wheel-arch coming into contact with the hot exhaust pipe caused the glue to melt, heat up and ignite. The body of Ferrari is designed with aluminium; aluminium under very high temperature melts.
Ferrari said the fire risk was due to a ‘hot day’, a ‘hot road’ and a ‘very hot car.’ Ferrari in the end called back all its 1,248 cars and replaced them for the owners at no cost. Since the incident, all the glued sections of the car are fitted with metal rivets.
The Sun reportedly said four of the cars had gone up in flames when it was three of them as at the time of the report. Ferrari then had to admit it was four cars because denying the claims would mean they had something to hide.
This goes to show how journalists are supposed to check their facts before reporting them. Mr Harris stressed that reports needed to be accurate and fair. His stress throughout the presentation was in defense of his company as well as the inaccurate figures in the press.
Ferrari later issued an official statement saying they had stopped production and recalled more than 1,200 of the super cars.
He also stated that Ferrari has had a similar incident but that was about 20 years ago and definitely before the age of Internet and You-tube. With the incident of the 458 Italia burning in china, the footage was on You-tube in matter of minutes.
We are in an age where the internet is readily available he said. This means that footage posted are easily accessible, therefore companies are also under pressure to answer queries as quickly as possible.
He expressed that the delays in answering journalist questions about incident such as these were due to the fact that the companies must comply with legislation and also a have a formulated plan on how to fix the problem before they can issue a statement or comment of any form.
He acknowledged the positive comments of Auto car journalist Chris Harris, Roger Stansfield and luxury car dealer Clive Sutton.
Chris Harris commented the incident was down to ‘bad luck’ and the glue used was not experimental glue as it is what the company has always used. The incident was bad news Chris stated in an interview with CNN but Ferrari’s response to the incident was very spontaneous. Chris in his interview also added that “any car could go up in flames and nobody would be bothered but a Ferrari in flames definitely makes a news story”.
Mr Harris also commented that Ferrari has a good recall better than other manufactures. In a lean and flat organisation as theirs, information can be communicated quicker and urgent incidents are quickly dealt with.
When asked if the incident would ruin the company’s reputation or damage the brand, he confidently replied: “it would not because of the way we responded to the incident. None of the car dealers I spoke to reported a single cancellation of their order. I don’t know about across the world but certainly that didn’t happen in the UK”
He added: “this problem is a small part of the company and not the whole Ferrari Company as people made it seem”
When asked whether he liked journalists he smiled and exclaimed a loud yes. He later honestly answered saying “I like journalists who are professionals in what they do and understand a brand and therefore accord it the respect it deserve. But you don’t seem to get much of such journalists these days”
Mr Harris said the company does not advertise as the money is used to address PR issues.
Ferrari he said is not your average car and it takes a lot of skills and expertise to design as every design is unique in its own rights. His favourite model he mentioned would be the Ferrari California convertible because he loves convertibles.
“California convertible is the weekend away with my wife” he concluded.
This Cov con session was not podcast because the Ferrari incident has already been addressed by the company and subsequently dealt with.