The '15 Mustang To Become The World's Pony Car

by , Dec 5, 2013, 3:06 PM
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The timing couldn't be better. Ford's Mustang is 50 years old this year, and the 2015 model, the first total redesign since 2005, is brand spanking new. 

The Dearborn, Mich.-based automaker, which showed a 50th anniversary version of the car in New York on Thursday as part of a six-city road show, is also making the sixth-generation car the first bona-fide global Mustang. While the pony car has been sold in other markets before now, this version, benefitting from the automaker's One Ford global platform strategy, is the first to have an architecture designed for adoption in just about any other market. It was built, for example, in both left- and right-hand drive. 

"There's passion in countries around the world for this car," said Alan Mulally, Ford's CEO. "People have been waiting for it." In the U.S., Ford has been doing social media efforts for a while for Mustang and on Thursday continued the ramp-up for the car, which goes on sale next year, with expandable ads on portals like Yahoo. 

Moray Callum, Ford's new group VP of design, who just replaced 33-year Ford design star J. Mays, said the look of the new car continues the aggressive front-end aesthetic, with the rest of the car lower and sleeker. "There's nothing subtle about the front. It's a fist breaking through the air.” The car, he said, “Is masculine but not 'Rambo.'"

Jaques Brent, Ford Group global marketing manager, said the buyer demographic is "all over the map" but a common theme, besides appeal of design, technology and power, is that "people associate it with optimism." And also with stars like Steve McQueen. "The car has been in more than 3,000 movies and TV shows; it has the largest Facebook audience — 5.5 million followers worldwide — than any other auto brand." 

Brent tells Marketing Daily that selling in global markets has, until now, been a limited-volume affair driven by niche demand. "Of the nine million Mustangs we have sold [since inception in the early 1960s], about 161,000 have been outside the U.S. in very select markets, predominantly the Middle East. But with [the 2015 model] it goes way beyond."  

The marketing creative and message strategy, per Brent, will be emotion first and technical virtues as a sports car second. "It's an opportunity to talk about the emotional connection you get from Mustang, and that's really the campaign we have been doing until now with Instagram. And we will use that; it will be the linkage to our global message. It's not just a sports car with such-and-such features." The just-launched, full-out campaign shows the car in action with supers like "Interesting how quickly wants become needs" and "Prepare for takeoff."

The car, whose entry engine delivers 300hp, also has the first 2.3 litre EcoBoost engine, a fuel-economy feature. Brent says that will change the owner landscape, which has traditionally been a dumbbell owner-age demographic: a lot of younger buyers and a lot of empty nesters, par for the course with sporty cars. The new engine and design, he says, will beef up the middle portion of the owner-age timeline where people having kids and moving to more functional cars. He says they might want to keep the pony car around because of its 2x2 seat configuration and improved economy.

"There is an opportunity to give it longevity into peoples' Thirties and Forties, but we also know it will still remain essentially a second car."

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