FORD MAKES LARGEST EVER WEB PORTAL ADVERTISING BUY

Internet a Major Component of Expedition SUV Launch

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DETROIT (AdAge.com) -- As part of the launch of its new 2003 Ford Expedition sport utility vehicle, Ford Motor Co. has made its largest ever purchase of advertising space on Internet portals, according to campaign managers.

In an effort aimed at reaching 70% of the U.S. online audience, WPP Group's Ford Motor Media, Detroit, bought the home pages of Microsoft Corp.'s MSN.com, AOL Time Warner's AOL.com and Yahoo! The buy marks the first time Ford Division has bought all three popular portals for a single launch.

In addition, Ford is taking banner ads elsewhere on the three portals as well as on third-party auto sites such as Edmunds.com and Kelley Blue Book's kbb.com and lifestyle sites, according to Ford Division SUV marketing communications manager Lew Echlin.

Future direction
Mr. Echlin noted that the heavy Internet component of the campaign "gives an indication of the future direction for our upcoming launches."

Working with Ford Division's agency, WPP's J. Walter

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Thompson, Detroit, creative staff at each of the three portals developed their own interactive Expedition ads specific to their sites. They promote a sweepstakes to win the SUV. MSN said it was the first interactive home-page ad developed in-house for an advertiser.

Visitors who click on the ads are hyperlinked to fordvehicles.com, where they can schedule test drives at their local dealers and order brochures customized for their tastes and concerns. The digitally printed brochures are then mailed to their homes.

Visiting dealerships
Glenn Burke, manager of e-marketing at the division, said 80% of consumers who show up at a Ford dealership after making an appointment online buy a vehice there.

Traffic to fordvehicles.com rose from 591,000 in March 2001 to 1 million in March 2002, according to Jupiter Media Metrix.

The media strategy for the redone Expedition's launch is to "energize our own owners and pull in competitive owners," said Joe DiMeglio, senior partner-management director for Ford at JWT.

In a related development, Ford Division tomorrow will announce the newest redo of its myford.com site, where its car and truck owners can register for personalized information about their Fords, warranty work, financing and special service offers.

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