PORSCHE ALTERS ITS MEDIA STRATEGY: MORE MAGAZINES, DIRECT MAIL IN 1ST WORK FROM CARMICHAEL LYNCH

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Porsche Cars North America plans to alter its media strategy while still appealing to its loyal customers.

"We're going to concentrate on increasing our outer circle of potential customers," said Chief Operating Officer Richard Ford, who oversees international marketing strategies plus operations, sales and marketing in the U.S. and Canada.

Porsche won't change its ads radically in the 2000 model year, Mr. Ford said, but will expand advertising in lifestyle magazines and boost its direct mail and relationship marketing.

Carmichael Lynch, Minneapolis, won the account early this year. Its first work for the brand, for the 2000 models, breaks in a few weeks.

BUYS BUFF BOOKS

The brand currently puts most of its print ad dollars in car-buff magazines. Porsche buys only regional TV, in its top eight markets.

Porsche spent $9.4 million in measured media last year, according to Competitive Media Reporting. Mr. Ford said the brand's marketing budget, which includes public relations and dealer development, is three or four times higher than its annual media spending.

Porsche started to expand its "outer circle" of prospects in 1997 when it launched the Boxster roadster, its first new model in 19 years. The sports car was then priced at just less than $40,000. It has attracted younger buyers in their mid-30s, Mr. Ford said.

Porsche hopes to lure more newcomers when it launches the all-wheel-drive sport wagon in 2002.

"The key is maintaining our core business and expand without disrupting our core buyers and without losing our brand image," Mr. Ford said.

That was the challenge Porsche issued when it went shopping for a new ad agency. Carmichael Lynch is now preparing a strategy to launch the sport wagon.

PAST CHANGES

Porsche has changed media strategies several times in the past decade or so.

The brand did virtually no direct mail until 1988. In 1989, Porsche spent its entire fourth-quarter ad budget of $5 million on a 2-minute TV commercial that aired less than 50 times, and a 20-page magazine insert. In 1992, Porsche's entire ad budget went to print.

The carmaker focused on TV in 1997 for the Boxster's splashy debut, with national TV commercials during the Super Bowl. That year, Porsche spent $17.2 million in measured media, said CMR.

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