Ford kicks off major push to revive Mercury's brand

DEARBORN, MI: Ford is launching a major integrated marketing campaign for Mercury that will seek to convey a new energetic image for the brand.

DEARBORN, MI: Ford is launching a major integrated marketing campaign for Mercury that will seek to convey a new energetic image for the brand.

PR already has been involved in the campaign, getting media attention for new ads that will begin this week. Next month, a website will debut that focuses on Mercury and consumer lifestyle issues. PR efforts in the campaign will center around showing off new Mercury products - the brand has six new ones coming out in the next four years - and projecting the new energy behind the brand, said Sara Tatchio, manager of Lincoln Mercury public affairs. PR efforts will largely be handled in-house, although Tatchio said some agency help might be used. She wouldn't specify which agencies she's considering. Mercury is calling this its biggest branding effort in a decade. Mercury sales fell 23% last year and are down 1% this year. Analysts have criticized the brand for not having a clearly defined image. Younger shoppers have shunned it. Some auto writers have dubbed Mercury models "Fords with more chrome," a knock on the lack of distinctive product designs. Mercury has had 12 different brand slogans in the past 25 years, a sign of its search for an identity that resonates with consumers. The new campaign, called "New Doors Opened," will target women ages 35 to 50. One survey by CNW Marketing Research has found that the age that people now think appropriate for buying a Mercury is 46, so the new campaign has its work cut out for it. Mercury is introducing a new compact SUV, the Mercury Mariner, and a new midsize sedan, the Montego, this month. It also has announced plans for a new midsize sedan, the Milan, for 2006.

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