Ford warns there could be serious "repercussions" if these leaks continue.
In a world where people have easy access to smartphone cameras, photos of hotly anticipated new cars leaking online before their official debut are nothing new. To stop us from seeing new models before we're supposed to, automakers often camouflage their prototype test cars knowing that spy photographers will be close by. But sometimes photos of new models leak from internal sources.
Not only does this ruin an automaker's teaser marketing campaign in the run-up to a new model reveal, but it can harm sales and even have legal ramifications. Earlier this month, photos of the upcoming Ford Maverick truck clearly taken from inside a factory were shared online without the automaker's permission. Unsurprisingly, Ford wasn't very happy about this. The Blue Oval automaker acted fast, ordering media outlets to remove the revealing images, but the damage was already done.
This isn't the first major leak of a new Ford model either, as internal photos of the Bronco and Bronco Sport emerged online months before their official reveals. More recently, photos of the Ford Fusion Active were posted online before we were supposed to see it. According to Automotive News, Ford believes "a number of these breaches" came from its suppliers and has issued a memo warning them that future leaks could have serious consequences.
"We cannot underscore enough the negative impact of these unfortunate actions on our collective business results, and we ask for your support to personally follow the confidentiality guidelines inherent in Ford's Global Terms & Conditions," Ford wrote in the memo. "Ford has a zero-tolerance policy for leaks emanating from our own team members, and we need all supplier personnel to adopt a similar approach regarding unauthorized disclosures of Ford confidential information." Photos and and videos of prototypes shared before their public debut are forbidden as part of the agreement.
Typically, insiders share photos, videos, or details about new products on model-specific forums. These leaks then get shared to a wider audience on social media and car media outlets. Ford isn't taking this issue lightly, either. In the memo, Ford's Vice President for Global Commodity Purchasing and Supplier Technical Assistance Jonathan Jennings warns that Ford could take legal action against suppliers if the leaks continue.
"Because the damage to our organizations can be significant, Ford will treat confirmed supplier security breaches with heightened scrutiny. Suppliers could face business repercussions and even recovery actions for damages tied to leaks caused or enabled by suppliers."
A Ford spokesman also confirmed that the company is "reinforcing to suppliers and partners, as we have to our own employees, the importance of following strict policies and protocols to protect confidential information."