The Appeal of the Ford Mustang
by Brenda Williams
By the 1960's, automobile manufacturers were well aware of the psychological connections between people and automobiles. Marshall McLuhan, in "Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man" had compared the car to our clothing insinuating that people would feel as vulnerable without their cars as they felt undressed.
Manufacturers now realized that they could increase sales and beat the competition if they could appeal to vanity desires such as appearance, styling, color, the male sense of bonding with his car and the feminine input into car selection. All of which prompted the launch by Ford Motor Company of the Mustang.
1967 Mustang GTA Convertible
Lee Iacocca, then vice president of Ford Motor Company had noted the public interest in foreign sports cars in the early 60's. He also noticed that this interest centered on the young and young at heart. This was at a time of rapid growth in the younger age groups (15-24), at which age car interest is the keenest. He also noted that the number of women drivers had increased dramatically.
After carefully researching the potential market, Ford company concluded that people wanted a low-priced, roomy, high performing car, economical to operate, with good storage space, and luxury styling that would be fun to drive. This was the market that Ford designers attempted to satisfy with the Ford Mustang.
Once in production, Ford carefully crafted its ads to appeal to the psychological level of car purchasing. For instance, the Mustang did offer a large number of options. And these options certainly attracted a wide variety of customers. Ford's advertising cleverly targeted this with the appealing line, "The car designed to be designed by you."
These options did allow the buyer the choice between a sports car for street or competition use and a luxury car for economy or performance. Buyers could select a convertible or hardtop, and choose between four different engines and three transmissions.
The Mustang was definitely sporty in appearance. It was built low to the ground with full wheel cutouts and a forward thrusting hood.
Sport options included a Rally-Pac with tachometer and clock, limited-slip differential, a special handling suspension and sports tires.
A center console, vinyl-covered hardtop roof, and a power convertible top were among the luxury options. And with two bucket seats in front and a bench seat in the back, it comfortably accommodated five people. The large trunk was ideal for sports gear, picnic baskets and the amenities that accompany fun.
The Mustang was heavily advertised even prior to production, so it was launched to an eagerly awaiting public. Many of the Mustang advertisements were definitely oriented to appeal to the psychological motives for car purchase. Driving a Mustang would bring a single girl a husband or transform an ordinary single male into a successful man with a choice of available women.
The advertising paid off as the car easily won the love of the American of the 60's. By 1966, Ford had sold a million Mustangs. In 1966 they were able to advertise, "What do you do when you've sold a million? Build a second million."
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