EVENTS & PROMOTIONS: IN UPSCALE TRAFFIC: MAGAZINES OFFER AFFLUENT EVENTS FOR CARMAKERS

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Makers of upscale automobiles are expected to drive a record number of marketing events this year targeting affluent consumers.

Mercedes-Benz of North America, BMW of North America, Toyota Motor Sales USA's Lexus, General Motors Corp.'s Oldsmobile and others will link up to marketing events at restaurants, department stores, and gourmet food and wine festivals.

In many cases, carmakers are getting help from magazine publishers that are orchestrating a growing number of such events for auto advertisers.

`CREATING DIALOGUES'

"Increasingly, manufacturers are asking magazines for help in creating dialogues with certain potential customers. With the right event, the right magazine title and the right manufacturer, you have the ideal environment for a great dialogue starring the product," said Catherine Viscardi Johnson, Conde Nast Publications exec VP.

On Jan. 29, Mercedes wraps up a series of literary events, in partnership with Conde Nast, that gathered hundreds of affluent subscribers of Vogue, Architectural Digest, Vanity Fair, Gourmet, Conde Nast Traveler and Allure at fine restaurants to meet author Gay Talese.

Parked inside the restaurant at each event was the Mercedes CLK coupe. Guests were encouraged to explore the car while hobnobbing with Mr. Talese.

Mercedes held several events in concert with Conde Nast last year for its SLK roadster; the carmaker also has participated in subscriber-targeted marketing events with Hachette Filipacchi. Diamond Promotion Group, New York, handles Mercedes' events.

BMW and Lexus have sponsored a variety of events for subscribers of Harper's Magazine and Bon Appetit, respectively, including at department stores with apparel designer tie-ins.

Oldsmobile gets into the act March 18 with "A Night of Intrigue in Los Angeles," a murder-mystery dinner. About 300 subscribers of Conde Nast titles, plus GM credit cardholders, are being invited to solve a mock mystery centering on Olds' Intrigue.

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