THE MARTI REPORT: and the winner is...

THE MARTI REPORT: and the winner is...

Author: DewZown/Tuesday, April 26, 2011/Categories: The Marti Report

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If you build it, they won’t necessarily come. They don’t come if they don’t know about it. Hence, a department exists at the Mustang Maker known as Ford Marketing Corporation. It is their job to convey to us why we need, or want to own, a Mustang and other Fine Fords (a marketing slogan). Yes, these guys had a Better Idea (a Marketing campaign that began with the ’68 models).

We’re all familiar with the typical media that’s used to advertise Mustangs — TV, radio, magazines, newspapers. But the Mad Men have always been figuring out new ways to get buzz that translates into sales. For example, in Issue 11 of Mustang Magazine, we talked about the Drag Pack campaign. This time we’ll look at Mustang giveaways.

Since the beginning of its introduction, the Mustang was a popular car to feature in contests and giveaways. But Ford Motor Company wasn’t the only business to take advantage of this. Many large Ford dealerships, as well as major U.S. corporations, drug-store chains, and even the NFL, became involved in promoting “the Going Thing.”

In 1966, an agreement was reached to absorb the American Football League into the National Football League. During this time, a yearly contest known as “Mr. and Mrs. NFL” was held. Each year several Mustangs were awarded to winners selected in the United States. During the peak of this program in the 1969 model year, more than a dozen 428CJ Mach 1s were awarded. These cars were supplied with a few basic options such as power steering and power disc brakes, but the winner could pay upgrade fees to have more options added. Surprisingly, most of the winners added few, if any, options. In an interesting example of how times have changed, for each Mustang, the winner’s Social Security number was displayed on the invoice, along with the person’s street address.

During the 1967 model year, Ford dealers were sent a “computer.” Now this really wasn’t a computer, but it was billed that way for the sake of a public enamored with an ever-increasing awareness of these marvels. In those days, a kilobyte of memory cost $1,000. Megabyte memory wasn’t even available, but if you could have bought today’s typical $100 hard drive, it would have cost hundreds of billions of dollars. With the United States locked in a Space Race with the Russians to put a man on the moon, it was easy for a Ford dealership to lure customers into the showroom where the customer could actually interact with a computer.

These “computers” had a slot in which you would insert your computer card that was mailed to you by the dealer. The display screen had 35 pixels. It would light up with an “X” if you didn’t win but displayed a “V” if you got the Grand Prize, enough money to option a Mustang with everything and still have money left over. Prizes in between were good for various cash amounts that could be used as a down payment on a new Mustang or other Ford. (Incidentally, if you have one of these computers, I’d like to buy it from you for my collection!)

The number of Mustangs sold is in the millions. The number of Mustangs given away is counted in the hundreds only. Few people have been fortunate enough to have keys handed to them. However, several of these Mustangs have been located. Interestingly, in some cases, the current owner had no idea his/her car was originally part of one of these contests. They looked the same as any other Mustang on the showroom floor. Typically, they can be identified as such only by paperwork.

Because giving away cars is expensive, instead of a full-size Mustang, many dealers gave away Mustang models as a reward for taking a test drive in one of their cars. These popular models are easy to find on eBay. There were even models that had a Ford Philco radio built into them so you could listen to your favorite AM station while daydreaming of owning the real thing.

Article originally published in issue 13 of Mustang Magazine

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