New England Lincoln Mercury creates social media campaign

BOSTON: New England Lincoln Mercury is in the midst of its first social media-only campaign, "Follow Me to Bliss," which supports the fuel-efficient 2010 Lincoln Mercury Milan Hybrid.

BOSTON: New England Lincoln Mercury is in the midst of its first social media-only campaign, “Follow Me to Bliss,” which supports the fuel-efficient 2010 Lincoln Mercury Milan Hybrid.

Its focal point is a YouTube webisode series featuring Deal or No Deal models Lindsay Clubine and Katie Cleary driving across all six New England states in a Milan Hybrid on one tank of gas. The duo completes wedding-related challenges, sponsored by local businesses, in preparation for Clubine's upcoming nuptials to Boston Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz.

The seven webisodes began airing in September and will run until the second week in December, demonstrating the Hybrid's green technology while attracting a new demographic to the product.

“We're targeting women in the 20 to 30 age range,” said Ralph Tricomi, business development manager at Ford Motor Co. “The social media aspect combined with the wedding theme will attract new customers who haven't considered purchasing a Milan Hybrid.”

The campaign utilized Clubine, Cleary, and Buchholz's celebrity status to gain media attention. Although “Follow Me to Bliss” has its own Twitter page, the models promote the road trip through tweets on their personal pages as well. New England Sports Network (NESN) provides up-to-date coverage on the challenges.

Flash Point Communications, Blanc & Otus, and Lincoln Mercury AOR RetailFirst are all supporting the campaign. The company has no PR AOR, so RetailFirst enlisted Blanc & Otus to handle media relations and to otherwise support the campaign.

According to Flash Point president and CEO Scott Empringham, they hoped to raise product awareness while engaging the community in a new way.

“We generated an open-source campaign,” said Empringham. “Instead of directly contacting businesses for support, they reached out to us after hearing about it through our Twitter and Facebook pages.”

According to Empringham, 20 local businesses, including the Boston Red Sox's Fenway Park and Boston Harbor Hotel, offered their support within 10 days of announcing the campaign online in late May.

A social media-only campaign was an innovative decision for Lincoln Mercury, according to Tricomi.

“We wanted to be more efficient with media money in a competitive market,” said Tricomi. “It's a route we've been trying to penetrate for quite some time.”

Blanc & Otus said it initially targeted local print, broadcast and online media in the cities where each challenge took place to announce the campaign. Their next step, which is still in progress, is reaching out to PR, advertising, and marketing trade publications, as well as automotive publications. Additionally, all business partners involved were encouraged to blog about their sponsored challenges. The campaign has been covered by NBC News, The Patriot Ledger, The Boston Herald, The Boston Globe, and PRWeek sister publication DMNews, among others.

According to Tricomi, the company's Web site traffic has increased 72% and web-based sales leads were higher than any other region in August.

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