Two new commercials for Ford Division's 2005 Mustang aim to achieve seemingly contradictory goals.
They seek to corner the market on nostalgia by invoking 1960s icons Steve McQueen and Jimi Hendrix. At the same time, the commercials are designed to appeal to young buyers by touting the new features of a car that debuted 40 years ago.
Some reviewers call the commercials brilliant. Others insist they miss the mark. But Ford Motor Co. and its dealers say they are driving showroom traffic.
Ford Division is counting on the Mustang to help boost its U.S. retail sales by as much as 15 percent within two years.
One of the commercials, called "Cornfield," plays off the 1989 movie Field of Dreams. A farmer builds a racetrack in his field. As he drives his Mustang from a barn to the track, a figure emerges from the cornstalks and walks toward him. It's a turtleneck-clad McQueen.
The farmer hands the keys to McQueen, who gets in and takes off. That scene flashes back to another movie: 1968's Bullitt. The film's climax featured McQueen racing a Mustang through San Francisco in what many critics still call the most exciting movie car chase ever.
The other commercial, called "Anthem," shows a Mustang in front of a billboard that displays images of the car throughout its history. The car's engine revs up to play "The Star Spangled Banner." It's a subtle homage to Hendrix's performance of the national anthem at Woodstock in 1969.
The "Cornfield" commercial is so popular that Ford added it to its Web site, says Martin Collins, general marketing manager of Ford Division.