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Bullitt – A true Ford marketing master-class 
Peter Schmidt | Editor

Published: Fri, 02nd September 2016 14:11:18 GMT

AID Newsletter 1616 Editorial Ford Mustang Europe

Open quote signIn whatever industry, and the autoindustry is no exception, lucky them who come up with a fashion icon. Particularly so if rivals cannot jump on this particular speeding bandwagon simply because your product stands out as a unique creation tied rigidly to your company. Clearly, that rules out today’s automotive trendsetter; the SUV, or for that matter Apple’s iPhone.

Ford, not renowned for its trendsetting automotive creations, but thanks to a great piece of luck, however did just that. 

A great deal more impressive still, thanks to the ingenuity if its marketing wizards, some four decades further down the road, that stroke of marketing magic is being repeated, and in consequence keeps Ford dealers’ tills ringing. 

That’s borne out by news that Ford’s latest Mustang, a real man’s motor, has become a big hit on both sides of the pond. 

By historical European standards, Ford’s latest Mustang stands out as the first US car to produce any halfway decent sales in Europe. 

A notable boost to Ford’s so-so image, in the seven months to July this year the Mustang stands proud as Britain’s top-selling muscle sports car, outselling all its European-made rivals, including its Porsche rivals. 

Scoring even higher points in the automotive image league, and a genuine turn-up for the books, during the opening three months of this year Ford’s mighty new Mustang even outsold Porsche’s iconic 911 in its German backyard. 

But then again, at least by Porsche UK’s marketing speak and oddball product definition, the Mustang was still outsold by one of Porsche’s “4-door Sports-Cars”, namely the SUV Macan. 

Whatever next? 

No bones about it, automotive trade between Europe and the US was effectively one-way traffic. 

While the odd European-made car accomplished the rare feat of icon-status in Detroit’s own backyard, none more so than Volkswagen’s original air-cooled Beetle, in terms of sales in Europe, until now, US cars never managed to rise above also-ran, no-hoper status. 

Europe’s high fuel prices have a lot to do with that. Yet, albeit in roundabout manner, Ford’s long-established Cologne-based European offshoot made oodles of cash on the back of an American icon. 

The Ford Capri, a cunning European-built and engineered effort to cash in on the huge success of Ford’s US-made Mustang, turned into an instant hit. 

Engineered and styled on the coattails of the 1968 cult-movie classic Bullitt, starring Steve McQueen and Ford’s Mustang, Ford of Europe rolled out their look-alike Capri; ‘Mustang made in Germany’. 

By Ford’s niche-product standards, the European-made mini-Mustang turned into an instant hit with European buyers.

In 1974, the sixth year of its model run, some 146,429 were produced and sold. Sure, instead of Mustang’s thirsty big-muscle V8, the top-selling Capri in Europe was powered by a humble 2.0 litre 4-cylinder engine. 

Given Europe’s sky-high fuel prices, hardly anyone would have touched a conceivable V8-powered Capri. 

Ownership of a ‘Mustang made in Germany’ was all about dreaming. 

The last Capri rolled off Ford’s German assembly lines in 1986 after a model life of 17 years. 

Fast forward to mid-2015, following the European market debut of the new Mustang, Ford’s European sales may be little more than a fraction of historical Capri sales, but in hard numbers, borne out by its success in the UK and Germany for instance, Ford has truly delivered a winner. 

Not as a money spinner, but then as a major boost to Ford’s boring image in Europe. 

Whichever way recent numbers are analysed, the Mustang’s current European success, thanks also to keen pricing and a 4-cylinder engine in the line-up, is a marketing master class and Ford’s Marketing wizards truly deserve a big pat on the back
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