Changing Channels

Young & Rubicam’s ‘Imagine TV’ Spots Build on Mercury’s Younger Brand Image DETROIT-Young & Rubicam’s new campaign for Ford Motor Co.’s Mercury brand marks a sharp departure from the more conservative approach that is usually identified with the automaker.
The seven quirky 30-second spots, which begin airing today, are also a good indicator of what’s to come for Lincoln, a sister brand to Mercury. Lincoln will undergo a similar image-building campaign in the spring, said Mike Belitsos, executive creative director at Y&R Detroit.
While the Lincoln campaign will be more subdued in order to fit the image of that brand’s vehicles, it will still grab the audience’s attention and be far different from previous Lincoln efforts, Belitsos said.
The nameplate’s tagline, “Imagine yourself in a Mercury,” continues in the new spots, but it is now delivered in a voiceover instead of being sung, as in the previous campaign.
The conceptual theme is “Imagine TV,” with the spots shot from the perspective of a channel-surfing viewer. Each ad features parodies of TV programs and movies, all with a reference to Mercury. Actress Kate Jackson has been dropped as spokesperson in dealer spots. Print executions break in lifestyle magazines and newspapers later this month.
The campaign isn’t intended to reposition the brand, but rather to highlight and build upon the perceptions of current owners, said Jim Rogers, general marketing manager for the Lincoln-Mercury division. Mercury is already attracting buyers who consider themselves individualists and who are looking for vehicles with “fun, flair and flexibility,” he said.
In launching the new spots, the automaker will spend 25 percent more than it did during the previous model year, Rogers said. Ford spent $175.4 million on Mercury advertising during 1996, and $95.8 million in the first six months of 1997, according to Competitive Media Reporting.
While each spot highlights a specific model, the campaign intends to create a personality for Mercury as a whole, said Ian Beavis, marketing communications manager for Lincoln-Mercury. This campaign sets the tone for new spots in the spring that will introduce the Mercury Cougar sports coupe.