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(Sept. 10, 2001) -- When luxury auto marketer Infiniti wanted to make a splash with its entirely revamped Q45 sedan, it launched the 2002 model in April rather than this month so as not to get its message lost amid the late summer/early fall new-car stampede.

Given the Nissan North America division's upper-crust customer base, the Web played a focused role in the launch's integrated-marketing campaign.

The resulting media buy made Infiniti tops among the luxury carmakers that advertised online during July, according to research and analysis firm Jupiter Media Metrix.

Of the 14.3 million Q45 impressions, nearly 6 million ran on the Web site for New York Times Digital's CBS MarketWatch and Microsoft Corp.'s MSN network were next with 2.2 million and 1.4 million impressions, respectively, according to the data. The model was also featured prominently on portals including [email protected]'s Excite and Yahoo!, and high-brow venues such as A&E Television Networks' and

Infiniti research found that Internet penetration for its target audience -- those with household incomes of at least $200,000 -- is 97%, making the Web an obvious venue for promotions of the car, which carries a manufacturer's suggested retail price of $50,500, said Steve Sammons, corporate manager-Infiniti marketing communications. From there, Infiniti further focused on a "roadblock" of financial Web sites, as well as sites served by [email protected]'s MatchLogic that fit the user profile.

The banners, as well as the offline ads that were coordinated with them, focus on different aspects of the Q45 explained through "jump pages" linked to the ads themselves and the main site, One, which states, "It's not daylight" links to information on the car's seven-lens xenon headlights. Others focus on such features as its 340-horsepower V8 engine and the voice-recognition technology that is a standard offering on the car.

They ran in heavy rotation from April through July and continue in a more limited run this month.

The online effort was closely coordinated with a print campaign that ran in financial publications, including Investor's Business Daily, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today and Barron's. The ads incorporated the URL as a headline.

"It's served us extremely well in leveraging both of those pieces," Sammons said of the print ads and online jump pages. -- Adrienne Mand

Copyright September 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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