Three-Minute Ford Spots Open and Close TV Program

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DETROIT ( -- Ford Motor Co.'s Ford Division is the sole advertiser of Fox's season premier of 24 Oct. 29. The show will run ad-free for 54 minutes, but Ford will open and close with a pair of
Ford's out-of-the-mold 3.5-minute spots were produced by J. Walter Thompson, Detroit.
different three-minute spots from WPP Group's J. Walter Thompson, Detroit.

Star thanks carmaker
Ford vehicles are also integrated into the show. Star Kiefer Sutherland will drive an Expedition sport utility vehicle and thank Ford in a 10-second message prior to the show. Rick Novak, car advertising manager at the division, declined to discuss if the deal was strictly a media buy or whether it also involved Ford paying some production costs or placement fees.

He said the marketer will continue advertising on 24 during the season and integrate its vehicles into the show.

When asked why Ford decided to sponsor the program, Mr. Novak said, "We're trying to be a little more cutting edge and to generate a lot of buzz and interest."

The automaker also wanted to try a new way to reach Ford prospects and showcase its vehicles in everyday use by the actors. He said research shows viewers will watch longer commercials if they are high-energy spots. "We think we've done that," Mr. Novak said.

New tagline
The spots have no voice-over and carry the tagline "Every Moment, Every Mile." They show how Ford cars and trucks play a role in people's lives throughout the day. Both new and vintage models are included and the executions carry an on-screen time-lapse clock similar to the one used on the show. The work will only run during 24 and is a departure from the brand's "No Boundaries" tagline introduced across its ad lineup earlier this year. But if the new theme works well, Mr. Novak said Ford would consider using it in other ads.

The brand will also kick off a media buy and product integration with its Ford Focus small car in January with ABC's "Alias," Mr. Novak said. The Focus will be driven by the show's main character. The deal includes a tie-in to the program's online game.

Similar sponsorships
Ford Division has done similar TV sponsorships in the past. In early 1997, the brand spent $5 million to be the sole sponsor of the TV premier of Schindler's List on NBC, which marked the first time the broadcast network ran a movie without commercial breaks. The division also spent $3 million in May 1998 to be sole sponsor of the final Murphy Brown"show on CBS. Neither deal involved product placement.

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Wayne Friedman contributed to this report.

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