Ford seems to be doing a lot of things well these days. Its sales bear this out. For one thing: Ford is building smaller, more fuel-efficient cars, and they even bested Toyota for quality—before Toyota’s recent woes manifested themselves. For another, the integration of modern interactive media put On Star in the dust of the rear-view mirrors of popular Ford models.

And now Ford is rolling out its 2011 V6 Mustang and backing it with a major campaign. Here’s the kicker: The new Mustang promises all the power and handling consumers expect to find, but how about 31 MPG fuel efficiency to boot?

That’s what BrandWeek recently reported in an article dubbed: “Ford: This Mustang Rocks! And, Oh Yeah, is Good on Gas.”

For anybody hankering for a sports car with cachet ... a real muscle car ... but hesitant due to its  notoriously gas-guzzling ways, the new Mustang may get them pretty excited. According to a Ford spokesman: “This is not your father’s Mustang. It’s completely new and updated.”

In a cool 30-second spot that broke during American Idol the week of April 25, the sleek new Mustang raced through San Francisco with cinematic footage that reminded viewers of Steve McQueen. No voice-overs in the ad. Just the sound of the revving Mustang and contemporary music. The tag at the end: “Drive One.”

This approach masterfully blends the brand’s heritage without looking maudlin or wistful. In fact, the contemporary updates to the car, the music and Ford’s whole approach leverages Mustang’s heritage yet fully smacks of 2011. Great stuff if you ask me.

What will be interesting to watch will be GM’s response to Ford with its latest incarnation of the Chevrolet Camaro. The 2010 V6 model that debuted last spring offered 29 MPG. Stiff competition is expected from that quarter as GM prepares to roll out a Camaro convertible within a year and new rivals emerge. A thir- generation Dodge Challenger is planned as well as a Hyundai Genesis.

• So what’s your take on the new Mustang? Will it fly off the dealer lots and onto the streets of San Francisco? New York? Atlanta? Chicago?
• Is the era of the “muscle car” over?
• Will better fuel efficiencies breathe new life into the classic Mustang or Camaro brand? How will new brands fare if they enter the fray?

I’d love to get your feedback.

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image of Ted Mininni

Ted Mininni is president and creative director of Design Force, a leading brand-design consultancy.

LinkedIn: Ted Mininni