Chevrolet Camaro sales have blazed ahead of the Ford Mustang through April. To catch up, Ford Motor Co. plans an aggressive advertising campaign.
The challenge is convincing buyers that Ford has changed the 2011 Mustang despite a lightly changed exterior.
"It's pretty simple: Powertrains are important in sports cars," says Steve Ling, Ford's North American car marketing manager. "Combine those with all the other changes we've made, and it's what our Mustang customers have been asking for."
The 2011 Mustang has new 3.7-liter V-6 and 5.0-liter V-8 engines. Ford will split output evenly between the two. The car also has an added optional glass roof and technology such as MyKey, a programmable key system.
Through April, Chevrolet sold 29,907 Camaros to Ford's 20,836 Mustangs. The last time the Camaro beat the Mustang in annual sales was 1985. GM did not sell the Camaro between 2005 and 2008.
For about a month now, Ford has been running the first Mustang TV spot since 2006, Ling says. The spot emphasizes the V-6's 305 hp and 31 mpg highway fuel economy. The 2010 V-6 Mustang was rated at 210 hp and 24 mpg on the highway.
In June, Ford begins a print campaign that will push the V-8 engine in enthusiast magazines and promote the V-6 in lifestyle magazines. Ford also will use social media to promote appearances at events this fall.
The 2011 Mustang is just arriving in dealerships. Dealer Les Eck recently received four. He is confident that once production ramps up, he'll get more and they will sell.
"When I tell people they can get 31 mpg with 305 hp, they want one of those," says Eck, owner of Rusty Eck Ford in Wichita, Kan. "That's going to be huge. We just have to get them in stock."