POWER PLAY: The successful $100 million-plus debut of the redone 2004 F-150 full-size pickup was dubbed "the most important launch in the history of Ford" by Ford Motor Co. Chairman-CEO Bill Ford. Results include impressive jumps in both sales and buyer consideration. Ford Division under Mr. Lyons will follow the F-150 formula for all key model launches with more integrated blitzes, dialing up events and online activities. The automaker hiked fourth-quarter ad spending by 50% for its new-model debuts, including the redone Mustang and all-new Freestyle sport wagon. The new, low-volume GT sports car drove into the Super Bowl ad arena. Ford Focus was a sponsor of the popular "American Idol."
DOWNSIDE: The division needs new models to lift volume. Its overall vehicle sales through August slipped by 4.3% to 1.87 million vs. a year ago; bright spots were the F-Series truck and Escape SUV. But the press panning the styling of upcoming Five Hundred doesn't bode well for the new sedan. This year's Freestar minivan ads, with "talking head" radio auto journalist Rick Titus, were non-creative and boring, but Mr. Lyons said dealers liked them.