Sync isn't a car or truck. But Ford Motor Co. is marketing the new onboard communication and entertainment system as if it were.
Departing from its usual practice, Ford seeks to brand a product feature on its own rather than as part of a vehicle. The Sync campaign includes TV and radio commercials, print and online ads, a promotional tour and dealership training. Distinct campaigns target black and Hispanic consumers.
Ford's goal is to get tech-savvy buyers to put its Sync-equipped vehicles on their shopping lists before Dec. 1, 2008. On that date, Ford loses exclusive rights to Sync technology that Microsoft Auto provides.
"We have an entire communication plan around a feature, just like a product," says John Emmert, Sync marketing manager. "That is not what we have historically done."
Sync enables drivers and passengers to activate digital music players and some cell phones with voice commands. Users can select an artist or song title, make a call or listen to text messages.
Sync will be available in 12 2008 Ford, Lincoln and Mercury models this year, starting with the Ford Focus. It will be standard or optional equipment on almost all Ford Motor vehicles by the end of 2008, Ford says. The system costs buyers $395 as an option.