Hachette and Ford fashion an effort targeting women

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The little Ford Focus is connecting with fashion as part of its episodic two-year launch.

Ford Motor Co.'s Ford division and Hachette Filipacchi Magazines today kick off an integrated marketing program, estimated at $2 million and dubbed "Fashion in Focus."

Hachette tapped 10 fashion designers to use Focus parts to create wearable apparel and accessories. Each designer is developing five pieces.

The January books of Elle and Premiere will carry a two-page advertorial teasing the Fashion in Focus fashion show Feb. 11 at Manhattan's Cipriani to unveil the car-part creations, along with a one-page ad from J. Walter Thompson USA, Detroit. The ad promotes the Focus Web site at focus247.com. It will have an area for visitors to enter a contest for tickets to the fashion show.

The new area of the Web site is set to launch today. The site will broadcast the fashion show live. Web site visitors can vote for their favorite design. The two Hachette titles' February issues will carry a similar three-page package with more event details, and March editions will offer a 12-page advertorial about the show.

"We challenged our marketing partners to go beyond programs that just place ads," said Focus Brand Manager Bob Fesmire. "Hachette clearly has stepped up to the plate." The effort will hit the car's target of 16-to-28-year olds, he said. Roughly 60% of Focus buyers are women.

Ford's two-year deal with Hachette expired this year, but was extended for a year into 2001, said Stephen McEvoy, VP-national sales at Hachette. The Focus deal includes Hachette's spectacular outdoor board in Manhattan on Broadway between 51st and 52nd streets.

He said the deal "goes way beyond added value" and that there are "shared costs" for the program. Neither he nor Ford would discuss specifics.

From the time the first Focus ads bowed in September 1999, Ford said the small car would get "episodic launches" for two years. Mr. Fesmire, who became brand manager of Focus last spring, said another limited-edition version of the car is planned in spring 2001.

Ford is now selling the Street Edition Focus, unveiled at the Miami Auto Show in October. Earlier this year, it sold a Kona-edition featuring a Kona mountain bike, and a Sony limited-edition model with a swanky Sony sound system.

Mr. Fesmire predicted Ford would sell 300,000 Focus cars this year, with 87 percent sold at retail.

He said his ad budget for the car will decline slightly next year. Ford spent $54.6 million in measured media on Focus from January to August this year, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

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