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Mustang

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Ben Poore is already applying lessons learned from the successful launch of Ford Motor Co.'s 2005 Ford Mustang for other products. He started planning 18 months ahead for the fall 2004 launch of the redone model, starting with the positioning formula of fast, fun and affordable. The 39-year-old car group marketing manager of Ford Division says the blitz "had to be over the top" because the legendary pony car "is the soul of the company in a sense."

He and his team studied Mustang ads over its 40-year history and brought in Mustang club owners early to see the retro-looking model. Ford headed to California to interview hundreds of people to get their sense of the car. The major insight learned from that research was that Mustang was seen as a symbol of dreams and freedom. All the findings were boiled down to this: The car represents an authentic, untamed American spirit.

Agency JWT, Detroit, developed cool executions. One TV spot showed the late actor Steve McQueen reprising his role in "Bullitt." In a cornfield scenario reminiscent of "Field of Dreams," Ford paved a road through the cornfield, where it had to tape remaining stalks because the car kept blowing them over. The convertible car was introduced during the Super Bowl this year with multiple :60s.

Mr. Poore, who joined Ford in 1994, spending six years working internat-ionally before returning to the Dearborn, Mich., headquarters in 2002, ordered a 2005 Mustang prelaunch site a year before it went on sale. He says about 397,500 people opted in on the site to get more information. That figure is now up to 550,000. The car was integrated into several prime-time shows, including ABC's "American Dream," UPN's "America's Next Top Model," plus in Sony's "Gran Turismo 4" for PlayStation 2. In print, Cosmopolitan readers were asked to submit candidates for the ultimate Mustang Man.

Results speak for themselves. Ford reported Mustang sales jumped by 73% in September 2005 vs. a year ago and are up 36% to 128,485 units for the first nine months of 2005 vs. a year ago. And in a year marked by generous giveaway deals, the 2005 Mustang has had no incentives since its launch. "We priced it right," he says.

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