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AOL Deal, Sweepstakes Spotlights 2004 Monterey

By Published on .

DETROIT (AdAge.com) -- Mercury is using the Web for an early promotional push for its 2004 Monterey minivan in a 90-day deal with America Online.

Starting today, the Ford Motor Co. brand

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will sponsor AOL's 9.0 upgrade page with video images of the minivan. Visitors can click on Monterey banner ads that link to mercuryvehicles.com.

More bang for the buck
The demographics of the Time Warner online unit are a good match for the minivan, said Philip Smoker, marketing manager of Monterey. He declined to reveal spending, saying only online media gives the brand more bang per dollar than TV. Mercury will periodically sponsor AOL lifestyle pages with ads and animated pop-ups of the vehicle through the fourth quarter, he said. The minivan will have "a strong presence" on AOL's welcome page for 12 hours over four days in the quarter.

The automaker is giving away a Monterey to the winner of a "15 Hours of Fame" sweepstakes, which Mercury is sponsoring on AOL. The contest is tied to "blogs," or Web logs -- personal, family or group online journals. Consumers can vote for the best blogs on AOL from Oct. 1-15. Mercury hopes 35,000 consumers opt-in using their names and addresses to register to vote in the sweepstakes. The marketer aims to sell between 23,000 and 25,000 Montereys annually.

Direct-mail campaign
The marketer also plans a "very aggressive" direct-mail campaign in the fourth quarter. Even though the Monterey goes on sale this fall, ads in traditional media won't arrive until early next year, as the early winter months generate the fewest sales for minivans, Mr. Smoker explained.

WPP Group's Y&R Group, Dearborn, Mich., handles Mercury's advertising account.

The brand's ad budget has been cut severely. In the first half of 2003, Mercury spent a mere $12 million in measured media and only $32 million for all of 2002, compared with $120 million in 2001, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR.

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