Ben Poore is applying the lessons he learned from the launch of the 2005 Mustang to other Ford Motor Co. vehicles.
Poore, 39, Ford Division's car group marketing manager, started planning 18 months ahead for the fall 2004 launch of the redesigned Mustang. He sought to position the legendary pony car in the market as fast, fun and reasonably priced.
Poore says the advertising blitz "had to be over the top" because the Mustang is "the soul of the company."
He and his team studied Mustang ads over the car's 40-year history. He brought in Mustang club owners early to see the retro-looking model.
Ford officials went to California to interview hundreds of people about their sense of the car.
The major insight that emerged from the research is that consumers see the Mustang as a symbol of dreams, freedom and an untamed American spirit.
A TV spot for the Mustang campaign showed the late actor Steve McQueen reprising his role in the movie Bullitt. In a scenario reminiscent of Field of Dreams, Ford paved a road through a cornfield for McQueen and his Mustang. Ford had to tape up cornstalks because the car kept blowing them over.
Ford introduced the Mustang convertible with commercials during this year's Super Bowl.
Poore ordered a Web site for the 2005 Mustang a year before it went on sale. He says 550,000 visitors to the site have asked for more information about the car.
Ford placed the Mustang in episodes of TV shows such as UPN's "America's Next Top Model" and NBC's "American Dreams." The car appears prominently in the "Gran Turismo 4" video game. A contest in Cosmopolitan invited the magazine's readers to nominate the ultimate "Mustang Man."
The Mustang's U.S. sales were 21.7 percent higher in October than in October 2004. In the first 10 months of 2005, customers bought 139,719 Mustangs. That's 34.7 percent more than in the year-ago period. And amid giveaway deals, Ford has offered no incentives on the Mustang since its relaunch.
Says Poore: "We priced it right."