Ford Has Designs for T’Bird

Ford Motor Co. has partnered with Condé Nast Publications for a fashion-oriented promotion to back the 2002 Thunderbird.

The companies have enlisted fashion designers, including Carolina Herrera, Marc Jacobs and Diane von Furstenberg, along with accessory designers Lambertson-Truex, Jack Spade and eyewear designer Oliver Peoples to create “Thunderbird-inspired” designs to be showcased at a benefit in September.

Condé Nast will feature the Thunderbird-inspired fashions in the February issues of Vogue, Architectural Digest, Gentlemen’s Quarterly, Vanity Fair, Gourmet, Condé Nast Traveler, Bon Apetit, House & Garden and The New Yorker, as well as Fairchild’s publication W.

Thunderbird designers shared their work with their fashion counterparts, explaining what inspired them in creating the car, said Doug Gaffka, Ford’s Living Legends design director.

The promotion is being orchestrated by Ford national agency J. Walter Thompson, Detroit, along with fellow WPP Group unit Hill & Knowlton, Irvine, Calif., said Ford representative Miles Johnson.

In between the fashion show and the launch of the related ads in February, Ford will break TV and print ads for Thunderbird, said Johnson, who declined to reveal spending.

The automaker already has dealer and customer orders for more than 20,000 of the 25,000 T-Birds it is producing for 2002, Johnson said. But marketing for the Thunderbird is expected to have a ripple effect and increase interest in the entire Ford brand, he said.

DaimlerChry-sler spent about $65 million launching the PT Cruiser, which had a similar “halo effect” for that automaker.

JWT teamed with the Integrated Marketing Group of Hachette Filipacci to design a similar fashion-oriented campaign for the Ford Focus earlier this year. In that effort, 10 young designers were asked to create clothing designs and accessories using Ford Focus parts.