Marketing 50

F-150

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Rich Stoddart knew he had to nail the campaign for the 2004 F-150 pickup, which Ford Motor Co. Chairman Bill Ford called "the most important launch in the history of Ford."

"We started at the place you're supposed to, but not everybody does-what's new about this product," says Mr. Stoddart, 39, marketing communications manager at Ford Division. "So much is focused on the sexy creative idea that marketers forget what they're here to do: give the consumer a reason to buy."

His team with WPP Group's J. Walter Thompson USA, Detroit, devised key strategies: find a way to articulate how the redone F-150 was setting the segment's bar higher; explain how the newest generation was different from its predecessor; and build on the truck's leadership and heritage. Among the highest priorities, Mr. Stoddart says, was a consistent message in all communications.

Ford saw lots of ideas from JWT's Tom Cordner, co-chairman and chief creative officer, and his senior team. In the end, the marketer picked three campaign ideas to pre-test. "Only this truck earned the right to be the next F-150" scored highest.

As part of a $100 million blitz, Mr. Stoddart used "high-visibility media spikes" from September through January. That included the F-150's long-form TV ads that were the only commercials during last season's premiere of "24" on Fox. Those two long-form spots scored in the top 1% of all new, prime-time TV network commercials for brand recall in 2003, says researcher Interbrand Advertising Group.

Ford also had incorporated the F-150 into a Toby Keith concert tour. "The integration on this is the best level I've ever been associated with," says Mr. Stoddart. Ford got results: It said 513,222, or 8.8% more, F-150s were sold through July than a year ago.

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