DETROIT -- In addition to starting TV commercials for the 2005 Ford Mustang, Ford Division is inserting the car in network TV shows.
Ford says it is using product placement in an effort to build interest in the redesigned pony car among young and minority consumers. The automaker is targeting Mustang enthusiasts and new buyers.
In October, Ford gave away a 2005 Mustang on the ABC reality show "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition."
After the TV exposure, visits to Ford's Web site, fordvehicles.com, rose 28 percent, says Michelle Erwin, Ford Division car communications manager.
The car also appeared in a November episode of UPN's "America's Next Top Model." The show promoted a Mustang giveaway on UPN's Web site.
When the contest was announced on the show, the site logged 10,000 entries, Erwin says.
The Mustang will be awarded at the end of December.
The car also has appeared in two dramatic series: NBC's "American Dreams" and Fox's "The O.C."
The automaker also is negotiating to place the lead character of ABC's spy thriller "Alias" in a Mustang,
Erwin says. The series returns in January.
Ford is selective about the shows that display the Mustang, she says.
"We want the integration to be meaningful to the topic of the show, so people can see the car being used in the story line," Erwin says.
Other shows have contacted Ford about using the Mustang, she says. She wouldn't name them.
Jim Hossack, vice president of AutoPacific Inc., a consulting company in Santa Ana, Calif., says Ford's efforts to show off the Mustang could pay off.
But, he warns, product placement cannot sell an unpopular vehicle.
You may e-mail Monica Link at