Ford on Thursday kicked off its largest ever media campaign, nearly deifying its 2004 F-150 in an advertising and marketing show that builds up from a tantalising tease campaign to a blitz company executives say is deserving only of the new truck, according to Associated Press (AP).

AP said the tease campaign starts on Friday with 15-second television spots, an Internet banner campaign and full-page ads in several key truck markets while its full campaign begins on what the company is calling National F-150 Kickoff Weekend, starting on September 4 in conjunction with the regular National Football League (NFL) season.

Each commercial features the theme, “Only this truck earned the right to be the next F-150”, AP added.

“For us in the company, it’s kind of been a lot like Christmas. You know … it’s coming and, finally, now Christmas morning is here and we could not be more excited about it,” Ford division president Steve Lyons told AP.

Associated Press said the success of the truck’s launch is particularly important to Ford as it, and other US vehicle makers, works to retain dominance of the lucrative truck market in the face of competition from Toyota and Nissan, which have made substantial inroads into the market.

Some television and print commercials will cater to Hispanic, blacks and Asian-Americans through a multicultural campaign Ford officials hope will continue to win over a key market segment they say other truck makers overlook, AP added.

Lyons told AP the company expects to spend more than $US100 million on advertising for the first six months, while Ford executives believe it’s necessary given the transformation they say the truck has made.

According to AP, Ford has said its suggested retail price for the 2004 F-150 line-up will remain the same as the starting price of the previous year’s model.

AP said the F-Series pickup is the best-selling vehicle in the United States and accounts for 25% of Ford’s sales – the new F-150 has five models instead of the three previously offered.

Suggested retail price for the new pickup will range from $19,125 to $35,570, excluding destination and delivery charges, Associated Press added.