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Ford "Flex"es its Appeal

Funkmaster Flex
Funkmaster Flex

Ford has signed Funkmaster Flex -- a popular hip-hop DJ and personality on New York City's Hot 97 radio station -- as a company pitchman for its Ford Flex Expedition, and as host of a new TV show where regular Joes compete in customizing one of the company's SUVs.

This is a smart move by Ford for a couple reasons. First, Flex's popularity with younger car buyers can help the company gain some much needed buzz. Second, it's another case of Ford trying to break out with a new approach.

As a company, Ford's lagged when it comes to having the "buzz factor." And aside from the

Ford Flex
AP
Ford Flex

Mustang and Lincoln Navigator, few Ford models "connect" with younger buyers. As one Ford dealer once told me, we're the place for pick-ups, SUVs, but not really for cars.

The fusion is a step towards changing Ford's conservative and stodgy image. The Edge CUV also helped. But with the Flex, Ford has the chance for a breakout hit, much as the 300C was a huge hit for Chrysler a few years back.

Will the Funkmaster be huge for Ford? It's hard to say. My gut says he will help, but not be an earth shattering difference maker. But he is an important piece of Ford trying to jumpstart its image.

Questions? Comments? BehindTheWheel@cnbc.com

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