16
May
08

Ford unveiling new Focus on ‘Idol’

A month after debuting its new “Drive One” campaign on “American Idol,” Ford Motor Co. will on Wednesday reveal a new, sportier version of the Ford Focus coupe during the popular show, which attracts more than 20 million viewers.

The car will be shown during a 45-second music video during the 9 p.m. Fox show and also on the Web site for the show under the “Ford Music Video” page.

Sam De La Garza, the Focus marketing manager, said the decision to show the updated coupe on television, rather than at an auto show where reveals have traditionally been done, was a creative new approach.

“We thought what an awesome opportunity it would be,” he said.

De La Garza said that Jim Farley, Ford’s new group vice president for communications and marketing, has been encouraging marketers to better “integrate with our existing opportunities” and focus on regional marketing. Several promotional events will be held on the West Coast after the “American Idol” reveal, such as one with Focus enthusiasts and specialty equipment suppliers.

The Focus compact car, which gets 35 miles per gallon in highway driving, has already been a hot seller in today’s sour economy, with today’s gas prices topping $4 a gallon. Retail sales of the Focus were up 88% in the United States in April, compared to the same month a year ago.

To meet that demand, the assembly plant in Wayne that builds the car has been on overtime to churn out the car, which was redesigned last year and comes equipped with Sync wireless communications and entertainment technology.

Forty-seven percent of drivers are now opting for Sync-equipped cars, and the technology has played a big role in attracting younger buyers to the model.

But De La Garza said that market research shows an even sportier appearance on the coupe version would sell even better. So, Ford has remade the front and rear fascia, added a new roof-line spoiler and standard 17-inch aluminum wheels on the top-of-the-line SES version of the couple.

All the changes will help differentiate the sedan version of the Focus from the coupe, which Ford hopes will attract even more younger buyers.

“Their overwhelming feedback was that a porter exterior design could attract even more,” De La Garza said.

Ford also made performance improvements to the coupe, including increasing horsepower and acceleration without any compromise to the car’s fuel economy rating.

Contact SARAH A. WEBSTER at 313-222-5394 or swebster@freepress.com.

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