MERCURY SHIFTS MORE HEAVILY TOWARD DIGITAL MARKETING

Ford Unit Announces New Advertising Strategy

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- In a major marketing communications shift, Ford Motor Co.'s Mercury unit will dedicate 25% of its new model promotion budget to online advertising and customer events, the company announced today.

Although Mercury would not provide a

Mercury, already a sponsor of the U.S. Open, is planning to expand its use of digital marketing and promotional events.
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breakdown of the campaign's specifics, the overall digital effort will clearly go far beyond the 3% that is now the average budget slice allocated for online advertising by American marketers.

Mercury has recently been integrating increasingly sophisticated Web promotions with its event sponsorships. For instance, a current sponsor of the U.S. Open tennis tournament, it has created a digital tennis game on its MercuryVehicles.com site. There, online consumers can match wits -- and finger skills -- with agile, tennis-playing Mercury models.

Time Warner Center
The new plans for expanded digital and events promotions were made public by Mercury's general marketing manager, John Fitzpatrick, as part of a new-model introduction ceremony at the Time Warner Center in New York this morning.

Mercury has already spent $93 million in measured media through May, compared with $76 million in calendar 2003, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR.

As reported earlier this year by AdAge.com, the new advertising campaign from WPP Group's Y&R Brands, Dearborn, Mich., introduced a new tagline, "New Doors Opened." Teaser ads break Sept. 13 on TV and in print publications.

Specific ads for the 2005 Montego sedan and Mariner sports utility vehicle will air on national broadcast and cable TV networks through November. The executions depict humorous slice-of-life vignettes to tout vehicle features. In one, a TV weatherman is driving his all-wheel-drive Montego when a viewer, disgruntled by inaccurate weather reports, recognizes him and heaves snowballs.

New model for younger buyers
Mercury also announced it will sell a new entry-level sedan, the Milan, due to arrive in late 2005 and aimed at younger buyers. The automaker said it will add six new models over the next four years. In addition to Montego, Mariner and Milan, Mercury said it will add an unnamed crossover vehicle and a hybrid-engine version of the Mariner in the 2007 model year.

Until the arrival of the two new 2005 models, Mercury had two cars and two trucks. It sold 117,862 vehicles through July 2004 vs. 118,903 units a year ago.

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