The new ads, via Team Detroit--the agency workshop comprising WPP agencies JWT, Ogilvy, Y&R, GroupM and Wunderman--highlight third-party endorsements from the likes of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
The first of the TV spots broke last night, with a father watching his son go from his first bike ride to getting behind the wheel of his first car.
Voiceover: "They never truly know what it means to keep them safe. But we do. We're the car company with more 5 star crash test ratings than anybody in the country." Print ads use the headline "The All New Taurus. Rated the Safest Full-Size Car in America."
Jonathan Richards, Taurus marketing manager, says pitching Taurus as the safest full-sized vehicle on the market--a claim buttressed by independent-analyst kudos--will be meaningful to buyers.
"We have studied the full-sized sedan buyers left, right and center, and safety and especially independent ratings of safety play really big with buyers of full-sized cars," says Richards. Roominess and comfort are also key, he says--adding that Ford will continue to mention that the vehicle shares platform components with Volvo, which has strong brand equity in class-leading safety.
The company says print and radio ads break this week in USA Today, The New York Times, news and lifestyle programming on major radio networks and on billboards in seven key markets and on Fox.
Taurus, says Richards, is intended to fill out Ford's car portfolio, both in terms of size and demographic targets, with Focus targeted to young buyers, Fusion to consumers in their late 20s, and the typical Taurus buyer a parent in their 40s, with teens.
Taurus, he says, is likely to sell strongly in the center of the country. "Our customer indexes with newspapers, with weather and money news, so it's no coincidence we will be in those media," says Richards.
The 2008 Taurus, pitched against vehicles like Toyota Avalon, Nissan Maxima, and Chrysler 300, has a base manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) of $23,995, including destination and delivery.
Later this year, Ford launches Taurus X, a wagon-style crossover with three rows of seats that effectively replaces the short-lived Freestyle wagon.
As with Taurus, safety will be a central message with Taurus X, Richards says. While he concedes the crossover segment is "growing by leaps and bounds," he expects Taurus the car to outsell the crossover initially.
In 2009, Ford launches its third crossover-type vehicle, to be called Flex.