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TAKING TONY ROUTE CARMAKERS HAVE EYE ON WOMEN AS AUTOS PARK AT STYLISH EVENTS

By Published on .

Upscale auto marketers are inviting themselves to more food, wine and fashion events as they search for women.

Lexus, for one, has stepped up its involvement this year in events targeting women.

"Traditionally, buyers of luxury cars are men, but we're reaching out now specifically to women who have their own income, their own sense of style for luxury cars," said Steven Sturm, Lexus' corporate marketing manager.

The luxury line of Toyota Motor Sales USA came aboard this year as a major sponsor of Bon Appetit's seventh annual Wine & Spirits Focus tours.

`SAMPLING' BMW CARS

BMW of North America has a long list of fashion and design awards events it's sponsored this year, as well as events where its cars are being "sampled."

An event earlier this month at upscale gadget retailer Hammacher Schlemmer in Chicago for Harper's Magazine subscribers was designed around showcasing the 1997 BMW 740iL and its satellite navigation system and related high-tech gadgets.

"These events don't attract huge crowds, but that's not our goal," said Rich Brooks, marketing and events communications manager for BMW. "The intimate setting lets us talk to high-end car buyers in unique settings that suit their outlooks and lifestyles."

This month also marks BMW's first tie-in with Nordstom department stores for a series of in-store events. Four fashion shows in key markets targeting designers and upscale shoppers will bring attendees into close contact with BMW's Z3 2.8-liter model.

American Express Co.'s Food & Wine and Travel & Leisure are also targeting upscale carmakers via integrated marketing tie-ins.

November's Food & Wine offered free cooking pans to readers who agreed to test-drive the BMW of their choice. Through next June, the magazine is also hosting elegant meals for prospective buyers of General Motors Corp.'s Buick Park Avenue.

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