FORD'S FIRST-QUARTER SPENDING WAS AT 'LOW LEVELS'

Wasn't Going to 'Outshout' Rival GM's Olympics Push

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DETROIT (AdAge.com) -- Ford Motors Sales, addressing sagging sales figures for May with analysts and press today, said it deliberately had "a relatively low level of voice" with its advertising in the first quarter.

George Pipas, U.S. sales

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analysis manager at the Dearborn, Mich.-based automaker, said Ford knew its chief rival, General Motors Corp., "was going to dominate the airwaves" in the first quarter. He said Ford decided "not to try to outshout" GM, which advertised heavily in February as a major sponsor of the U.S. Winter Olympics team and an NBC broadcast partner.

Ford and its stable of brands are expected to return to "normal" advertising levels nationally and locally in third quarter, Mr. Pipas said.

Ford spent $132 million in meaured media in the first two months of 2002, according to Taylor Nelson Sofres' CMR. By comparison, GM spent $609 million in measured media in the first quarter 2002 vs. $444 million for same time a year ago, according to CMR.

The automaker's total vehicle sales slipped by 11.5 % in May to 329,903 as retail sales skidded and fleet sales rose. Ford sales declined by 10.6% in the first five months, to 1.455 million units.

Mr. Pipas was optimistic the marketer will impove its market share and retail sales as the year progresses.

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