Have you seen FORD v FERRARI?
It’s the true story of the visionary American car designer Carroll Shelby and the fearless British-born driver Ken Miles, who together battled corporate interference, the laws of physics, and their own personal demons to build a revolutionary race car for Ford Motor Company and take on the dominating race cars of Enzo Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in France in 1966.
It’s a highly entertaining film that car buffs will love.
The film also skewers “the suits” at Ford, including Henry Ford, Jr. Lee Iacocca is the only Ford executive with half a clue in the film. If you’re Ford’s CMO or CEO, you might love the free advertising that FORD v FERRARI provides, but at what cost? While the portrayals of real Ford execs are from 50+ years ago, the events that drive the narrative forward are as relevant today as they were then. Corporate blindness caused by executive arrogance is the key takeaway, and arrogance was in the water in Detroit at the time—a fact that led to the city’s decline, and the domestic auto industry’s fall and the federal bailouts that followed.
Whether or not you like cars and racing, there are universal threads in the film that you’re likely to appreciate. Sadly, many of us know what it’s like to have a boss who does not listen, who thinks he knows it all, and who is willing to diminish you in front of the team and sabotage your best efforts.
Another central thread in the film is the value of craftsmanship, especially when contrasted with automation. Ferraris are made by hand in an Italian studio. Fords, not so much. Plenty of people working in media, marketing, and advertising can relate.
Are You Willing To Fight for Your Ideas? It May Cost You
Advertising’s survivors learn to let the criticism of their work roll off their backs. Because the criticism will come, and ideas, a.k.a. “your babies” will be killed. Over and over again. But great creatives don’t let it derail them because they have a deep reservoir of new solutions inside of them waiting to come out.
In the film, the two people who know how to win at Le Mans are hired to bring Ford a victory over Ferrari. The tension in the film centers around Ford’s inability to get out of its own way, so its goal can be realized.
The film reveals a deep lack of faith in ideas, in expertise and experts who wield it, and in an individual’s right to hold a strong point of view. The corporate team, Ford, in this case, wants top-down control. They demand obedience and the biting of one’s tongue from every participant. But creative people don’t play that game. The truth is too important for them to subvert it for profit, or to keep the peace.