THE BATTLE OF 2009 PICKUPS

Ford readies ad blitz, training for F-150 launch

The 2009 Ford F-150
DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. plans an advertising blitz for the new F-150 pickup in November as the automaker undertakes massive dealership sales training this fall.

Mark Grueber, F-150 marketing manager, said the new F-150's product mix will shift away from the premium lines to more of the basic work pickup.

Grueber said Ford will provide sales training at its 1,000 largest dealerships with a variety of displays and other props. Dealers asked for the on-site training, he said during an interview on Friday, Sept. 19. Ford will provide training for smaller dealerships at central locations.

This will be the most comprehensive dealership training for the F-150, Grueber said. Training will run through year end.

The urgency of Ford’s sales and marketing efforts underscores the challenge of selling the new F-150 in a highly competitive and declining market for trucks. Dodge is launching its all-new 2009 Ram pickup, and F-series U.S. sales have plummeted 25.2 percent through August compared with the same period a year ago.

“It’s absolutely critical for dealers and salespeople,” Grueber said of the training. “They are the face of Ford. We’ve got a lot of truck experts within the dealerships. We brought them to Dearborn for three days.

“You can’t just do one thing on training. You have to have a comprehensive program.”

Without giving details, Grueber said Ford has a healthy budget for the campaign.

The new pickup goes on sale next month. The line also includes an SFE edition, whose letters stand for “superior fuel economy.”

The SFE pickup will achieve 15 mpg city/21 highway, Ford said. The SFE package will be available on the F-150 SuperCrew XL and XLT 4X2 pickups with 4.6-liter, three-valve V-8 engines and 5.5-foot beds.

Grueber said he expects the SFE edition to run 15 to 20 percent of the product mix in markets using rear-wheel-drive pickups. Those markets include Texas, Florida and Georgia.

You can reach Jamie LaReau at jlareau@crain.com

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