Fusion Ads Take On Accord, Camry



It's been more than a decade since the Ford Taurus topped the Honda Accord or Toyota Camry in sales. But Ford is so jazzed about the public response to its Fusion sedan in 2006 that it's kicking off an ad campaign touting a Car and Driver event in which consumers scored the Fusion higher than its Japanese rivals for handling, fun, and styling.

The campaign, which kicks off today, includes TV ads, print, and a digital video campaign. The goal, says Ford division marketing chief Barry Engle, is to "close the perception gap" people have that thoseToyota and Honda models are "so much better than ours."


The crux of the campaign is an event the car enthusiast magazine held near Washington D.C. in which some 600 subscribers were invited to drive competing models. According to Engle, many of the attendees had the same reaction. "That the Accord and Camry weren't as good as they thought, and the Fusion was a lot better than they expected." Ford paid the magazine to hold the event. Ford supplied a top of the line Fusion with all-wheel drive (AWD) against top of the line Camrys and Accords, which do not offer AWD.


The results of the face-off are on www.fusionchallenge.com, which will be promoted in ads. Ford does not, however, provide all the scores from the event, such as those that showed the attendees felt that the Toyota and Honda were of higher quality and more acceptable to their peers.


The Fusion sold well last year, topping 142,000 in its first year. But Engle says that the car is only known to 30 percent of the target audience, the curse of a new name. Some executives say it that it can top the 2006 sales figures, with some privately speculating that Fusion could become a 200,000-a-year model. The Camry, of course, sold almost 450,000 last year.


Two TV ads show clips from the D.C. event and clips from real people singing the praises of the Fusion over the Camry and Accord. The digital video ads are more clever and irreverent. One is a spoof on an old Selsun Blue shampoo ad in which a man has two kinds of shampoo on his head. The half that tingles is how the Fusion makes his head feel. The other side is how the Camry makes it feel. Another Net video ad spoofs a soft-drink ad in which the glass of bubbling sparkling soda represents the Fusion, and the flat soda represents the Accord.


The effort kicks off a special $0 down, $0 due at signing, $0 first-payment lease deal on Fusion for $249 per month for the front-drive version. It is also meant to spotlight new standard equipment in the Fusion, including side-impact airbags, side air curtains, and an auxiliary input jack for MP3 players. New options include a DVD-based satellite navigation system, a factory-installed SIRIUS satellite radio, and all-wheel drive.

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2007 Ford Fusion by Eric Peters (11/15/2006)

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