This kind of commercial wouldn’t fly these days.
1971 was a big year for the Ford Mustang. A complete redesign of the famous muscle car meant Ford needed to sell the public on the revolutionary looks. As you can see in the commercial below, one of the tactics was to try convincing people the new Mustang was more stylish than European cars at the time. Check it out for yourself.
There’s no way an automaker would run this kind of an advertisement today. The reasons are many, starting with the bad acting and flimsy accent, which sounds like a hybrid cross between Italian and French, of all things. Then there’s the fact people don’t buy a Ford Mustang to feel like they’re driving some stylish Italian car. But you have to remember the Mustang didn’t have as much social cache then as it does now.
To be really cynical, the 1971 Ford Mustang grew bigger in every way, except when it came to overall performance. That’s not to say the entire lineup was unimpressive, just that like other American muscle cars of the time it suffered from emissions restrictions and fuel efficiency measures.
Like other muscle cars, the Ford Mustang saw sales slump when 1971 rolled around. Slapping a flashy-looking body on four wheels, then having some actors behave like Europeans practically having a heart attack over how “lovely” it looks didn’t get people rushing to dealerships to buy the Mustang. Even the Mach 1 fastback featured in the commercial couldn’t get the needle moving.
People knew the Ford Mustang Boss 302 was a goner, replaced by the tepid Mustang Boss 351. Still, there are many who cherish the second generation Mustangs, who love their slab sides and other details. They might even laugh at the commercial above. Everyone seems to have their favorite generation of the Mustang, and every look back at how Ford marketed them is at least entertaining and educational.