Ford preparing 'fun, fast' theme for redesigned Mustang
By AUTOMOTIVE NEWS
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Ford Mustang marketing manager Paul Russell has an enviable job: manage the sales and advertising launch of the 2005 Mustang.
The redesigned car begins production in September at a Ford-Mazda plant in Flat Rock, Mich. Sales are expected to begin in early October.
Russell spoke with Automotive News Staff Reporter Amy Wilson at a Mustang 40th birthday celebration here on April 15.
What is the advertising message for the 2005 Mustang?
Part of our communication plan will be to let people know it's all-new. With that said, it'll be more about the emotion of the car.
The message is going to be focused on fun, fast and affordable. And we'll get the point out that it's a very attainable vehicle. You're not going to see product benefit. It's got 60-40 fold down rear seats, but I don't think we're going to spend a lot of time communicating that.
But you'll communicate horsepower and performance?
Absolutely. Especially the performance on the V-6, which is going to be very good. Two-hundred hp is what it's listed at right now. But with 235 pounds-feet of torque and the new transmission, it's a nice package.
So it will be better than the only Mustang I ever had, which was a four-cylinder?
We don't like to talk about those days from a performance perspective, but they were good sales days.
Is there room for heritage advertising showing images of the original Mustang?
I don't think we need to do that with this car. For those people who have the historical connection and want to relate to the Mustang's unique styling, they'll see that it's there. At the same time, we're very proud of our heritage. You're going to see things that will be very pride-filled in a halo sense.
Is it too obvious to use the song "Mustang Sally" in your advertising?
Yeah, I think it would be. Don't get me wrong; it's really relevant. They were cranking it on the PA system here today. The music industry is so wrapped into the vehicle, as is Hollywood. Who knows? Maybe there's an opportunity for a musician to do an all-new song about the car.
Is there an agreement for the 2005 Mustang to be placed into a movie or entertainment show?
There are some things that haven't been firmed up. We've been talking to a lot of people about placement in different movies. One of the things that's really special about a powerful brand like Mustang is, it just happens on its own. Sometimes those are more dynamic than if we got in the middle of it as marketeers and tried to develop something.
Is J. Walter Thompson working on the campaign?
Yes. We're working on the strategy, but we haven't reviewed any specific creative yet. We're doing a tier 1 print campaign to help the sell-down of the '04 model. It's mostly in June and July across a variety of lifestyle magazines. It will be 40th anniversary, celebratory birthday-type advertising.
When is the big advertising kickoff for the 2005 model?
That depends largely on when we can put inventory into our 3,800 Ford dealers. Right now, we think that is going to be in the fourth quarter, the October-November time frame.
Is there a danger in launching a large advertising campaign near the start of winter for a car that sells better in the summer?
Actually, 70 percent of our Mustang volume is moved through our Sun Belt states. While that's not a traditional time of year to launch a rear-wheel-drive sports car, the demand is going to be so outstanding even in the cold-weather regions that it'll be fine at launch. We'll follow up with a phase two to the launch for the convertible in the spring.