Ford’s Shawn Lollie: On the Tom Joyner Cruise, Essence Music Fest and Marketing Success
Ford Motor Company’s Shawn Lollie’s gregariousness, effervescence and open managerial style are the attributes that make it ideal for her to attend and maximize opportunities at the crème de la crème of annual urban events such as the Tom Joyner Cruise, the Essence Music Festival in New Orleans and the ultra-popular Steve Harvey Hoodie Awards in Las Vegas. Her disarming personality and approachability enable her to procure a large sampling of opinions from a cross-section of people about the products she markets to diverse demographics.
Lollie, the multicultural marketing manager for Ford, is responsible for the strategy and increasing brand awareness among the African American community. She deals with all creative aspects of Ford’s launch vehicles such as the Fusion, Explorer and the Escape, the latter of which was strategically planted aboard the week-long Tom Joyner Cruise. She accomplishes her marketing objectives via print and radio. But having thousands – and in the case of Essence Fest, tens of thousands – of her target audience in one place enhances her opportunities to create emotional bonds between the brands and the prospective consumer —all in one fell swoop.
Of course, it helps that Lollie and Ford will be giving away an Escape for those who did, or did not, go on the cruise as well as doing the same for another vehicle at the BET Awards — another event that draws in urban sophisticates with sizable wallets. -terry shropshire
These types of events enable you to accomplish multiple business objectives in one. Not only are you able to help give back to HBCUs with the cruise, which you’ve supported for six consecutive years, but you are able to show off your newest rides.
The love, the respect, the outpouring — just the caring from the passengers from the cruise has been outstanding, it’s been fantastic. Last year we set record in vehicles sales from the cruise. So we decided to step-up our sponsorship and [become] the title sponsor of the event; based upon just the brand awareness from the attendees of the cruise.
How have you been able to create success in the marketing field?
I really do like getting out there. Some executives don’t like getting out there and mingling with the people. You know I’m not like that. … I like it when people approach me, and tell me what [they] think of the vehicles, tell me what [they] think of Ford. And just getting the message out there helps. And I’m a real person. I have a position at Ford, but I also recognize where I came from. I like to be approachable. Come talk to me.
What is your leadership style?
I just like to make myself approachable whether I’m on a plane … or ‘hey, this is my third trip [on the Tom Joyner Cruise] and I’m coming back. Or, if I’m walking through the cruise ship and people are saying ‘I’m glad you’re coming back, Shawn. Remember me from last year?’ or ‘I bought an Explorer or an F-150.’ I just like making myself accessible to them. Now, that goes both ways, ‘you know, my vehicle broke down.’ So, nothing is perfect. So what can I do to assist you? It’s like, I don’t want to forget where I came from, and I just want them to be able to talk to me.
What is your definition of a powerful woman?
“I think that would be someone who is a [real] woman. I’m a single mom. I have a son that I adopted. And when I’m away, he knows that she’s doing something to help us. And when I return home, he’ll say, ‘well, mom I saw you on TV and I saw your picture,’ and it lights my face up because he knows that I’m doing it for both of us.
Being a jet-setter with a family, how are you able to maintain balance?
I think to be powerful that you have to keep in mind what is important. First is your family, then your career and then everything else will just fall into place. I hope that I’m an example out there of that. You might be a single mom, you may not have finished school, but you can be successful and you can be powerful.