MERCURY MYSTIQUE GETS BIG SEND-OFF

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A few years back, Lincoln-Mercury adopted a "Be big somewhere" philosophy, an attempt to give impact to its media spending by concentrating dollars in high-profile events.

But with the division's 1995 model year ad budget increasing at a 10% clip for the second straight year, to an estimated $220 million, Lincoln-Mercury's presence is going to be real big in several somewheres.

That's especially true for the Mercury Mystique, getting a projected $45 million send-off, the biggest ever for any Lincoln or Mercury model. That includes 11 pages of ads in USA Today on the Mystique's Sept. 29 rollout; 24 Mystique commercials running that day on NBC's news, prime-time and late-night programming; and a co-promotion with NBC in which a Mystique will be given away through a sweepstakes on each of seven straight nights.

The Mystique and other models will also be advertised in other major shows such as the November CBS miniseries "Scarlett," and on Barbara Walters specials on ABC. The division is also on ABC's "Monday Night Football" for the first time ever.

The aggressiveness shows that parent Ford Motor Co. figures Lincoln-Mercury may be its best bet for future growth, with the Ford Division already claiming half of the 10 best-selling vehicles in the U.S. In addition to the Mystique, the division is expected to introduce a redesigned Lincoln Continental late this year.

"One of our objectives is not only to sell Mystique but to elevate the image of Mercury," said Gerry Donnelly, Lincoln-Mercury ad manager. The Mystique, a small, family size sedan produced as part of a Ford global development program, will compete with the Nissan Altima and Honda Accord.

Young & Rubicam, Detroit, created the Mystique campaign, which began Sept. 19 with a humorous teaser, and three rollout spots that start Sept. 29. The introductory commercials use visual puns, such as a Mystique driving among school desks in a desert setting to communicate attributes that are "best in class."

Lincoln-Mercury's 1995 model year marketing plans also include black and Hispanic ad efforts by UniWorld Group, New York. The division will put an estimated $11 million into targeted minority marketing efforts, a 15% increase from this year.

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