Ford Rides New Mustang Hard, From 'Blacklist' To Nail Polish


Ford has a pretty clear field for promoting the new 50th-anniversary version of Mustang these days, right up until the car goes on sale in the fall. And the company is taking maximum advantage of the opportunity with a variety of marketing initiatives designed, among other things, to broaden the traditional market for the dramatically overhauled new version of its iconic muscle car.

These gambits range from the big splash that the new Ford Mustang made at the New York International Auto Show last week, to co-branded promotions with nail-polish brands and fashion designers, to clever new product placements on hit TV shows such as The Blacklist.

Each of these moves is designed to help restore Mustang to the place of high cultural relevance with mainstream America that it still enjoyed long after the original pony car’s debut in 1964. And with about six months to go until launch of the 2015 Mustang — and no new-model introduction scheduled in the meantime by any other brand that could match Mustang’s star power — Ford will command a lot of media discussion and consumer attention for its biggest move of 2014.

Mustang birds eye viewTake The Blacklist placement. Mustang, of course, has been celebrated over the years for its effective and trailblazing role on TV and in movies ranging back to its first on-screen appearance, in Goldfinger, to the Mustang convertible driven by Efrem Zimbalist Jr. in The FBI television series in the late Sixties.

More recently, Ford scored an appearance for the new version of Mustang as the hero car in the movie Need for Speed.

Ford’s latest placement victory involved a clever TV commercial for the car about half-way through the latest episode of the NBC hit drama, The Blacklist, drawing on a significant plot twist that occurred in the show just seconds before the ad was aired.

Tom Keen, a Blacklist character played by Ryan Eggold, has double-crossed his wife, the show’s protagonist, Elizabeth Keen, a government agent played by Megan Boone. Over the arc of the show that premiered last fall, he has become a seeming bad guy. And he finally was tied to a chair and about to be interrogated for the first time by Elizabeth.

Then Blacklist cut away to the Mustang commercial. In it, Eggold walked into a parking garage discussing the “balancing act” around his character in the show. “Is [Tom] a good man or a bad man?” Eggold said. Viewers began to see glimpses of the car he was approaching, including a wheel.

“There’s a darkness in Tom,” Eggold said. The wraps came off to reveal a vibrant red new 2015 Mustang. “But there’s a glimmer of goodness, too. Something that makes you hope his motives just might be … noble.” And Eggold took the Mustang — presumably, a car that can accommodate both the light and dark shades of the personalities of its drivers — for a spin.

Tying the car to a Blacklist mystery man is unlikely to be the last innovative example of placement undertaken by Ford before the Mustang’s launch. The car probably would have served as a great getaway vehicle for Jack Bauer in next month’s revival of the 24 franchise on Fox Fox — but the show is set in London this time.

Meanwhile, Ford also this month announced a “global fashion collaboration” marking Mustang’s 50th anniversary and heralding the new version. It will cooperate with five top fashion designers from around the world — including Detroit’s Anna Sui — in Mustang Unleashed, a limited-edition line of 15 Mustang-inspired t-shirts.

Mustang has always been a big seller for Ford in its mammoth licensing business, ranging from apparel to key chains to metal and plastic models of Mustang and even a Mustang-themed pool table. Expect the revelation of many more licensing deals for Mustang wares in the months ahead.

Not coincidentally, Ford also announced another Mustang tie-in to fashion as it attempts to broaden the demographic for the 2015 version to include more women, especially Millennials. Ford announced the OPI Ford Mustang collection of nail lacquers designed to put the “pedi to the metal.”

Developed by the co-founder of the Coty-owned major brand in nail care, Ford Mustang by OPI will sport six shades when it hits U.S. stores in July, including Race Red, Queen of the Road, and Girls Love Ponies. You get the idea.

All of this news came only after Ford pulled a remarkable stunt during the press preview at the New York auto show by displaying the 2015 car on top of the Empire Empire State Building, just as it did in a 1965 stunt with the original Mustang.

Ford had a prototype of the new version cut into pieces and took it up the freight elevator of the world’s most iconic skyscraper to the famous observatory on the 86th floor, then reassembled it and displayed it as part of a New York-based celebration of the 50th anniversary.

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