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Ford Fusion Challenges Toyota and Honda

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
The Fusion outperformed the Camry and Accord in the following attributes: attractive, fun to drive, performance and handling.

SEE ALSO:Ford Buyers Guide
SEE ALSO:Ford Fusion Review

by Marty Bernstein
Marketing and Advertising Editor
The Auto Channel

Bold Moves, the theme of Ford’s advertising is being replaced (hopefully & thank-fully) by a more powerful and resonant premise: challenge the competition. Ford is putting consumers into competitive vehicles to let them test the competitions cars against Ford products. A simple, but rational approach.

The challenge process began in Washington, DC last December when consumers drove competitive vehicles – Toyota Camry and Honda Accord -- against Ford’s Fusion in a test conducted by Car and Driver magazine to assure objectivity.

Positive test results for Ford led to a new ad and marketing campaign in January called the Fusion Challenge. While just two months old, this program, according to Ford execs was, “An overwhelming success.”

Ford’s February sales, announced yesterday, confirmed this statement as the Fusion posted a double-digit sales increase compared with a year ago. This was due to an all-time high for conquest sales of 47%.

These positive results led to another head to head competitive challenge last month was conducted by Road & Track magazine in hot bed home of Asian vehicles, California. In this test the Fusion was evaluated by 400 consumers against competitive models with similarly favorable results.

And thus another ad campaign was created … but adding to the positive challenge results of the Fusion test, Ford added the Expedition SUV and Ford F150 truck using evaluations from leading consumer and buff publications.

The new campaign leads off with a nostalgic retrospective journey through Ford’s 103 year history of vehicles starting with the Model T followed by other iconic cars and ends with the current array of models.

A resonant voiceover tells the viewers, “They didn’t buy the Model T just because it was priced right. We had to prove ourselves then. And we’re still prov-ing ourselves today.” That’s the set-up commercial. It’s followed by others that are focused on specific product attributes and features.

The Fusion commercial features the results of the LA tests with consum-ers’ comments about handling. It appeared for the first time on the hit show, American Idol.

Commercials, both English and Hispanic versions, for the Ford Expedition EL use a humorous physical fitness – exercise concept to compare Ford’s seat-ing package, flexibility, ease of use and comfort to other SUVs in two different commercials. The F150 trucks use Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs and were detailed yesterday.

Cisco Codina, group vice president, North American Marketing, Sales and Service commented, “Ford products offer some of the best quality, the most ad-vanced technology and sophisticated designs available today, and that’s the fo-cus of the Ford Challenge.”

Other elements of the campaign are special retail/dealer ads, print adver-tisements and of course the Internet. Ford is also introducing new retail and lease offers in conjunction with the new challenge promotions. All details at