'24' sponsorship: Ford puts $100M behind F-150

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Ford Motor Co. plans a $100 million media blitz behind the F-150.

Ads by WPP Group's J. Walter Thompson, Detroit, will be in heavy rotation across all mediums, said Rich Stoddart, who oversees advertising as marketing communications manager, Ford Division.

National Football League broadcasts on Fox will be a core part of the launch blitz. The truck will appear Oct. 7 in a four-minute episode promoting Fox's drama "24." Ford will again sponsor the Oct. 28 commercial-free season premiere of "24" with a total of six minutes of ad time at the start and finish of the program.

Country music star Toby Keith plays a role in the campaign, and wrote a song used in one of the spots. The artist appears and sings in a national TV spot that broke Aug. 1 teasing the F-150's arrival next month. The ads will retain the "Built Ford Tough" truck tag. Mr. Keith will drive a custom-made F-150 to open each of his Ford-sponsored concerts over the next 12 months. The F-150 turns into a stage; the sides drop down, the roof folds up and speakers come out of the truck bed's side.

customer search

Since the F-150's unveiling at Detroit's auto show in January, Ford has displayed the F-150 at some 100 events and collected opt-in names. All prospects, also from Ford's Web site at fordvehicles.com, get a mailer with more F-150 info. Another wave of direct mail will go out at launch to more than 60,000 of the hottest prospects; each will get three separate pieces.

Ford spent $41 million in measured media from January through April 2003 on its F-Series line, which includes the 150 and heavy-duty models, and $127 million in calendar 2002, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR.

Doug Scott,truck group marketing manager, Ford Division, said Ford expects sales to rise above last year's 813,701. As Ford did in 1996, it will continue the older model into 2004 so it doesn't lose production capacity as it changes plants for the new models.

Ford and two General Motors vehicle brands came out on top when buyers were asked, in a recent study, which marques they would consider. Out of 35,188 consumers who responded to the study conducted by consultancy AutoPacific, 29% said they would consider Ford; 28% Chevrolet; and 22% GMC. Another 21% of respondents named Toyota Motor Sales USA's Toyota brand, followed by Chrysler Group's Dodge at 14% and Jeep at 14%.

Mr. Scott conceded that the Asian entries are going to be viable, but that they don't have an 85-year history of building tough trucks. "I'm not losing any sleep. We know this market better than anyone else."

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