ESCORT, TRACER DIVERGE IN THEIR MARKETING PLANS

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Ford Motor Co. is taking two different routes in rolling out its restyled Ford Escort and Mercury Tracer later this month.

The Tracer will be backed by Lincoln-Mercury Division's largest-ever radio ad campaign, while the Ford Division's Escort will get an integrated marketing push.

Both divisions lowered prices from last year on several versions of the 1997 models, after Ford was stung by high pricing of the redesigned Taurus, the best-selling car in its stable.

AFFORDABILITY FACTOR

"Affordability is a key concern of the general public, but particularly important to the people who buy in the small [car] segment," said Randy Stewart, Escort brand manager.

Escort's integrated campaign is dubbed "Rhymes & Reason," because the narrator in TV and radio commercials uses rhyme to discuss reasons to buy the car.

J. Walter Thompson USA, Detroit, developed the new tagline, "It's new and it's nifty." JWT also developed a 400,000-piece direct mail effort for mid-June.

Ford's in-house staff developed an Internet "scavenger hunt" starting May 23, with a prize of an Escort LX lease.

Escort will get separate creative executions from Ford Division's new Hispanic agency, Zubi Advertising Services, Coral Gables, Fla. There are ads aimed at African-Americans from UniWorld Group, New York.

Mr. Stewart said Ford will spend more on Escort than last year but wouldn't be specific. Ford spent $5.5 million advertising the Escort in 1995, down from $10 million in '94, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

Tracer spending also will be up this year, said Dale Jones, Lincoln-Mercury marketing communications manager. He said it will be higher than the last two years combined. Tracer ad spending stood at nearly $3 million in 1995 and nearly $7 million in 1994.

`THEATER OF THE MIND'

Using what Mr. Jones calls the "theater of the mind," unusual things happen in eight separate radio spots to Tracer's driver or the man strapped to its roof. Each of the 30-second radio spots, by Young & Rubicam, Detroit, tout Tracer features, calling it "the small car that thinks big."

About 70% of Tracer's radio campaign will be national on ABC, CBS, Media America and Westwood One networks, with the rest spot buys.

Four print executions run in magazines from May to September. The spreads use the headline, "As seen on radio."

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