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sciguy_0504

Ford's chick brand

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First there was the chick flick -- that movie that appeals to women because of its emotional, introspective plot or girlie cast. The one that often makes macho men roll their eyes.

Now, increasingly, a chick auto brand seems to be coming to life: Mercury.

Ford Motor Co.'s premium Mercury label, squeezed between the mainstream Ford and upscale Lincoln brands, has struggled for years to find a clear identity of its own.

But for the past year, beginning with the launch of the new Mariner crossover, the 66-year-old auto brand has been reinventing itself as a youthful sophisticate -- pitching its new cars and trucks alongside independent films and high-end fashion venues that seem boldly feminine.

Mercury, which launched its hybrid version of the Mariner on Wednesday, has been sponsoring films out of a Glamour magazine contest, makeovers during Fashion Week in New York City and a random Make Your Day giveaway of haircuts, manicures and coffee. Mercury arranged for Ellen DeGeneres to give away a Mariner hybrid on her talk show last week.

Unlike the gray-haired Mercury driver of the past, Stacy Miller of Royal Oak typifies the brand's ideal new customer.

She's young (25), a college graduate (Central Michigan University), gainfully employed (Quicken Loans in Troy) and she does her research. ("I really pay attention," she said.) And Miller just traded in her Chevrolet SUV for a new Mercury Mariner crossover.

"I'm kind of a car snob, and I like having the nicer things," said Miller, whose black Mariner has a sunroof, heated leather seats and six-CD changer. "I think it's a really cute car."

Mercury marketing manager Kim Irwin was uneasy with suggestions that the brand is making a play primarily for women, noting how the brand also sponsors ads in manly magazines such as GQ, Maxim and Stuff. And it's not like Mercury is shamelessly draping itself in a swath of pink.

The brand has hired a fresh-faced, down-to-earth spokeswoman, actress Jill Wagner, who seems to appeal to women and men -- judging from the online blogs where men call her "hot," "Definitely HOT!" and "hot, hot, hot."

Locally, the Metro Detroit Lincoln Mercury Dealers Association has Detroit Lions coach Steve Mariucci in its ads.

But Mercury's official position that it is gender-neutral seems difficult to square with Mercury's highly female-oriented campaign.

"That's what they're doing," Gordon Wangers, chief executive officer of AMCI Inc., an automotive marketing firm in Marina Del Rey, Calif., said of Mercury's apparent targeting of women.

Karl Greenberg, a reporter who follows the auto industry for Brandweek magazine in New York City, even noted how Mercury's campaign is packaged in a soft, muted color scheme.

"There's really little question they're directing most of their brand at women," he said.

Plenty of car and truck models over the years have been aimed toward women -- minivans, the VW Beetle and or Volvo's 2004 YCC, or "Your Concept Car," which was designed for and by women. But few marketing experts could remember an entire brand being positioned for women.

Coming off as a chick brand in the auto business has risks. There's an old adage in the auto industry: You can sell a woman a man's car, but you can't sell a man a woman's car.

Some experts, however, say this long-feared risk is overblown -- and outdated.

"What's wrong with getting a makeover when Mercury might show up the next day and offer guys a golf lesson?" asked Fara Warner, author of "The Power of the Purse: How Smart Businesses Are Adapting to the World's Most Important Consumers --Women."

"I don't think you want to make it too girlie," she said, "but to put your brand where women are, that's a good thing."

During Fashion Week in New York City this year, Mercury sponsored free makeovers for women, as well as shoe shines for men.

For now, men aren't rolling their eyes and Mercury seems to be executing its year-old "New Doors Opened" campaign deftly: On the strength of the Mariner, Mercury brand sales are up 3.9% this year, a significant accomplishment in an overall market that is up only 1.2%.

Data also shows that the brand is attracting younger consumers and more women than it has in the past -- an important shift for the stodgy old brand, which has been in decline for decades and seemed to hit rock bottom last year. Sales fell from 528,033 cars and trucks in 1985 to just over 190,000 in 2004.

Aiming at the young

Irwin said the brand is targeting a so-called psychographic -- a psychological profile that is young, culturally diverse and style-conscious -- more than a demographic.

"Men are style-conscious as well," she said.

Over the past year, as Mercury has launched its Mariner, Montego full-size sedan and Milan midsize sedan, the brand's marketing mantra has become "film and fashion" and it has been strengthening its marketing to sophisticated young consumers -- ones that arguably lean female.

Mercury commissioned an online serial movie, "Meet the Lucky Ones," about the often-comic misadventures of a quirky dysfunctional family.

The brand also backed a series of short flicks out of a Glamour magazine "Reel Moments" contest. In September, Mercury presented one of those films, "Wait," in 25 theaters. The 10-minute flick was about one woman's journey of self-discovery and a bittersweet possibility of reunion with "the man that got away." It premiered before New Line Cinema's "Domino," a dramatization of the life of female-model-turned-bounty-hunter Domino Harvey.

Meanwhile, the new Mercury Milan, which aims for a 55% female customer base and hit showrooms in October, has been sponsoring a Make Your Day marketing campaign, where random people in five cities were treated to free goods and services, such as haircuts, manicures and coffee.

Wangers said that while Mercury's strategy might be risky, an estimated 80% of car-buying decisions are made by women. So Mercury could gain distinction in the marketplace and have some success with a female-oriented strategy.

The key, he said, is to make the image slightly more appealing to women than men and avoid making the cars and trucks feel too feminine.

"Women don't like feminine cars. Women have proven they do like macho cars," Wangers said. "The idea 'Let's make it pink and sell it to women' has never worked."

Warner agreed.

"I would propose women want speed," she said. "I don't think we need ponytail holders."

Room to grow

The brand still has a long way to go before it hits a danger zone: Of the sales during the first half of 2005, about 36% of Mercury buyers were women, according to the Power Information Network, or PIN, an affiliate of J.D. Power and Associates. That's up from 32% during the same period last year.

However, information about the gender of car buyers skews male in some areas because men are often listed as the buyer on a number of household vehicles, even when a woman is thought to be the primary driver, said Tom Libby, director of industry analysis for PIN. For example, minivans are thought to be driven primarily by women, but only 33% of minivan buyers are women.

For now, Mercury dealers and consumers couldn't care less about Mercury's image turning too feminine. They say the brand is hitting its stride, just as the new Milan arrives and a hybrid Mariner is on the way. Ford executives also have said other undisclosed vehicles are coming to Mercury.

Mike Stanford of Varsity Lincoln-Mercury in Novi -- the top-selling Lincoln-Mercury dealership in the country -- said he couldn't be happier with the brand's new direction.

A lot of women "are the No. 1 breadwinners, and I don't think that's something that's a fad. They have a ton of financial clout," he said.


http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2005511170519
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I think it sucks that most women decide for themselves wahtever it is they want to drive but then when it comes to their husband also make MOST of the decision. This is why POS shitboxes wiht bland styling and transverse mounted engines are selling like hotcakes. Women are the final decision makers in like 70% of car purchases. A few times at Chevy of Lowell & other dealers I worked at I had a bossy bitchy super-douche tell her husband straight out he couldn't buy the car HE wanted and could afford only to also tell him what car she wants and is going to get for herself. Hence two Camcords or crappy SUVs in the Driveway. <_<
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If the world operated under your logic everyone would have a 2-door BOF Camaro with 531 horsepower, even those people who dont know what a condom is and end up with 15 kids. Women, on the average, make better long term decisions than men. Women take into consideration comfort, reliability, maintenance, gas and insurance far more than men do. A car is a long term purchase, usuay kept for 5-10 years. I like the direction Merc is taking. Just different enough and just attractive enough to demand a premium over the same car with a blue oval.
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I think it sucks that most women decide for themselves wahtever it is they want to drive but then when it comes to their husband also make MOST of the decision.

This is why POS shitboxes wiht bland styling and transverse mounted engines are selling like hotcakes. Women are the final decision makers in like 70% of car purchases.

A few times at Chevy of Lowell & other dealers I worked at I had a bossy bitchy super-douche tell her husband straight out he couldn't buy the car HE wanted and could afford only to also tell him what car she wants and is going to get for herself. Hence two Camcords or crappy SUVs in the Driveway. <_<

[post="44614"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]


um, and it took you this long to figger that out? how do you suppose the accord and camry got so popular in the late 80's and through the 90's? and how else did SUV's come into prominence? Edited by regfootball
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that Jill Wagner, I really have a bone to pick her with. with her. her with. she makes my loins ache. bad. YEAH I'LL BUY A MERCURY!!! crap, i just got a FORD!!!! dammit! Edited by regfootball
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"I think it's a really cute car."

[post="44628"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]

Hi
Posted Image
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um, and it took you this long to figger that out?  how do you suppose the accord and camry got so popular in the late 80's and through the 90's?  and how else did SUV's come into prominence?

[post="44626"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]



Heh-heh....I'm glad my G/F likes fun cars..both of her cars have manual transmissions...(BMW 330Ci conv. and Jeep Wrangler).
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My parents are pretty equal when it comes to their cars. My mom says what she wants...she gets it. My dad goes out and looks for himself and if the deal is good...he gets it.
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Jill Wagner, the Mercury Girl

oh, my burning loins!!!!!!!!!!! or is that my heated seats?

[post="44669"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]


Honestly, I don't think she looks that good. The picture contained in the link makes her look a little...um...special.
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goto stuff magazine and look for her spread that shows all her pics. MMMMMMMMMMMMM
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Are you sure the success of your past relationships aren't involved in this opinion? I've found that most couples choose their own car, but usually work together within the constraints of their needs/wants. I think sciguy's parents are pretty much the norm in this situation. Not many guys will totally cave in on such a large purchase. And as the owner of a said "'Cord", the reason for getting it was simple. It is simply the best car in this class. We drove a Malibu Maxx LT, G6 GTP, Camry SE V-6, Saab 9-3, Mazda 6, Subaru Legacy GT, and the Accord was the only car that was the best mix of perceived quality, power, comfort, lux stuff, and, so far, reliability. So, women aren't the only ones buying "'Cords". I see alot of men driving them.

Chief

I think it sucks that most women decide for themselves wahtever it is they want to drive but then when it comes to their husband also make MOST of the decision.

This is why POS shitboxes wiht bland styling and transverse mounted engines are selling like hotcakes. Women are the final decision makers in like 70% of car purchases.

A few times at Chevy of Lowell & other dealers I worked at I had a bossy bitchy super-douche tell her husband straight out he couldn't buy the car HE wanted and could afford only to also tell him what car she wants and is going to get for herself. Hence two Camcords or crappy SUVs in the Driveway. <_<

[post="44614"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]

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Now Ford just needs to differentiate Mercury from Ford (and Lincoln)-how about different colors at least from each other? It seems all three divisions share the same colors, let alone body styles. I'm not talking about adding pink either, but I know if they tried, it could be done.
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Although they have a long way to go, they have started. The Milan offers 3 colors the Fusion and Zep don't - Satellite Silver, Vivid Red, and Light Tundra. As for options & features in general, I think we'll see a lot of 'baby steps' but taken very quickly, with new stuff first appearing in Lincolns but finding their way to Mercs then Fords in succeeding years, as well as across the board upgrades. In the meantime, Mercurys could be the best value of the 3 brands. Ex: the Milan base v6 comes standard with alloy wheels, LED tail lights, heated mirrors (& a few other doodads) that are either not available on the Fusion or are extra cost options for just $720 more than the Fusion SE v6. Plus the L-M dealers are rated higher and you get a more unique ride. Edited by 2b2
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Now Ford just needs to differentiate Mercury from Ford (and Lincoln)-how about different colors at least from each other? It seems all three divisions share the same colors, let alone body styles. I'm not talking about adding pink either, but I know if they tried, it could be done.

[post="45322"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]

I think that Ford is doing the best it can considering its current financial position - not much better than GM's.
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I think it sucks that most women decide for themselves wahtever it is they want to drive but then when it comes to their husband also make MOST of the decision.

This is why POS shitboxes wiht bland styling and transverse mounted engines are selling like hotcakes. Women are the final decision makers in like 70% of car purchases.

A few times at Chevy of Lowell & other dealers I worked at I had a bossy bitchy super-douche tell her husband straight out he couldn't buy the car HE wanted and could afford only to also tell him what car she wants and is going to get for herself. Hence two Camcords or crappy SUVs in the Driveway. <_<

[post="44614"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]


hey idiot, who do you see driving a majority of the BMW 325is out there?

gender doesnt equate to the chassis/driveline layout of a car, moron
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gender doesnt equate to the chassis/driveline layout of a car, moron

[post="48444"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]


Yeah, for real. Women are certainly driving the sales of cars with traverse engine layouts because the vast majority of women (and men) buyers know the difference between traverse and longitudinal arrangement. :rolleyes:
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If the world operated under your logic everyone would have a 2-door BOF Camaro with 531 horsepower


For the last time, (I've explained this to you like 20 times in the past year) the Camaro is not and NEVER was BOF. It had a subframe for a while but it unibody by definition. I'll buy a hybrid BOF-UniB theory but it is nothing like a BOF car.

Yes I prefer my big American Luxury Yachts to be BOF but a Camaro is a sports/GT car and you just constantly say this to be annoying and get attention. Why don't you go get {stab at sig} up the {edit} and get a clue!






hey idiot, who do you see driving a majority of the BMW 325is out there?

gender doesnt equate to the chassis/driveline layout of a car, moron



"Carpetbagger"

(wow, I didn't realize Hillary posted here...)

If I had used the words Idiot and moron in a post against another member Fly would be saying it was an "ATTACK" but since he's of like opinion wiht "Carpet" he AGREES wiht him and moves on. Nice.





Regfootball: um, and it took you this long to figger that out? how do you suppose the accord and camry got so popular in the late 80's and through the 90's? and how else did SUV's come into prominence?



Pretty much figured it out the first few weeks I worked as a car salesman at Bill DeLuca Chevrolet/Pontiac.




Flybrian: Yeah, for real. Women are certainly driving the sales of cars with traverse engine layouts because the vast majority of women (and men) buyers know the difference between traverse and longitudinal arrangement. :rolleyes:



If I had a dollar for everytime an airhead (70 % of the time a girl) insisted that her 2.5 mile commute to work/school meant that FWD/AWD/4x4 was a MUST have feature on her new vehicle I'd be driving a ZL1 Camaro already.
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Didn't Farrah Fawcett-Majors get this ball in motion back in the late '70's when she was the spokesperson for the Cougar? That was when both she and the Cougar were haute.
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Didn't Farrah Fawcett-Majors get this ball in motion back in the late '70's when she was the spokesperson for the Cougar? That was when both she and the Cougar were haute.

[post="56208"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]


Man, don't you hate those moments when you realize how old you are?
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i sure as hell don't feel old when i see Ms Wagner in that nice tight top. GREAT ad campaign. i dug farah too. who cares about the car, throw a babe in nothing on an ad and watch sales grow! that' how they sell rancid beer like budweiser! Edited by regfootball
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Man, don't you hate those moments when you realize how old you are?

[post="56211"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]

I remember her driving the Mustang II Cobra II on Charlie's Angels on new episodes.
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