SUV to Be Featured in Films Aimed at Urban Market

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DETROIT ( -- Ford Motor Co. is finalizing plans that will have the Lincoln Navigator sport utility vehicle featured in two 2004 movies
The 2004 Lincoln Navigator.
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aimed at the young urban market, the automaker said.

The two movies are Johnson Family Vacation, from Fox Searchlight Pictures, and Are We There Yet? from the film distributor Revolution Studios.

Ad details unknown
Details about the related ad budgets and co-marketing plans were not available. "These films take place in and around the vehicle," said Jan Valentic, vice president for global marketing at the automaker. She would only say Lincoln "will probably advertise the movies."

Mark Geller, who handles promotions at Fox Searchlight, said talks are ongoing with Ford about how to evolve the product placement. Topics include co-branded promotions, co-branded media, a tour with the SUV and a sweepstakes. Although the main demographic for Johnson Family Vacation is African American, Mr. Geller said Fox believes the movie will have a broader appeal.

In addition to Lincoln and Ford brands, the deal between Ford and Revolution also includes Aston Martin, Jaguar, Land Rover, Mazda, Mercury and Volvo. While having access to movie development, Ford will make its design and research centers available to Revolution Studios, making way for customized cars and film-specific vehicles.

Brand Entertainment Group
Both deals were handled by WPP Group's Brand Entertainment Group, Dearborn, Mich., formed earlier this year. The new shop teamed with Lincoln and its African-American shop, WPP's UniWorld, New York, Ms. Valentic said.

Brand Entertainment succeeds WPP's Showcase International, Burbank, Calif., which had Ford's placement account for at least a decade. Ms. Valentic said Showcase still manages Ford's vehicle fleet in Hollywood, although a Showcase spokeswoman said, "We are in the process of being closed down."

Sales are up
Lincoln said Navigator sales through September rose by nearly 24% to 27,065 units vs. a year ago. But Lincoln's ad support for the SUV slipped from $64 million last year to just $5 million in the first half of 2003, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR.

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