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US:Ford readies ad campaign in effort to revive declining sales of big SUVs

Ford readies ad campaign in effort to revive declining sales of big SUVs

AMY WILSON | Automotive News

Amid high gasoline prices and declining sales of its big SUVs, Ford Motor Co. is spending $50 million on new advertising campaigns for the Ford Explorer and Expedition.

New TV commercials for the Explorer began this month. Spots for the Expedition start today, April 25. They are the first new commercials for the SUVs since 2003.

Ford marketing executives are trying to stem a steep slide in sales of the high-profit Explorer and Expedition. Explorer sales in the United States dropped by 25.1 percent in the first three months of 2005 over the year-ago quarter. Expedition sales plunged by 26.8 percent during the same period.

“The thing we hadn’t anticipated is $2.30-a-gallon gas,” says Steve Lyons, Ford Motor’s new group vice president of North America marketing, sales and service. “The decline in the full-sized and truck-based SUV segments was not well anticipated, and it does present a challenge for us.”

Ford had new SUV commercials in the works but expanded the campaigns because of the challenge in the segment, Lyons says.

In addition to higher gasoline prices, Ford faces another problem: Its big SUVs are aging. The advertising campaigns aim to bridge the gap until Ford’s updated SUVs are launched in late 2005 and in 2006.

The new commercials focus on technology such as electronic stability control with rollover protection. That feature is now standard in the Explorer.

“We really get into the technology and how it works to the customer’s benefit to keep the vehicle safe,” says Chris Feuell, Ford Division’s SUV marketing manager.

Expedition spots focus on its 5.4-liter V-8 engine, which recently was updated to three-valve technology. It has better horsepower and fuel economy, Feuell says, and now is the only engine available in the Expedition. Ford dropped a 4.6-liter V-8 that had been standard in the Expedition.

The TV commercials follow print ads that were launched in the fourth quarter of 2004. The commercials are running on such shows as NBC’s “Law and Order” and Fox’s “American Idol.”

The Explorer commercials will run until fall, when a campaign will begin for the re-engineered 2006 Explorer. That version will feature minor styling revisions, an updated 4.6-liter, three-valve V-8 and a six-speed automatic transmission.

The Expedition commercials will run into 2006. Ford plans to introduce a redesigned Expedition for the 2007 model year. That version will migrate to Ford’s new T1 platform, sharing front-end components with the F-150 pickup. Ford also will offer an extended-length Expedition next year.

My first car was a 67 Mustang Coupe, 2nd one was a 67 Cougar XR-7, 3rd one was a 66 Mustang Coupe. Why did I get rid of these cars for ? I know why, because I'm stupid, stupid, stupid.

My next Ford.....
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