Ford Division Forecasting New ‘Mind-Set’

Ford Motor Co.’s Lincoln-Mercury division opened its newly relocated headquarters in Irvine, Calif., last week as its national agency, Young & Rubicam, began shifting employees to new offices in Irvine and San Francisco.
In a speech to the Advertising Club of Los Angeles, Mark Hutchins, the division’s recently appointed general manager, said the automaker’s decision to move west “is less about a geographical shift and more about a cultural mind-set shift.” He forecast changes in Lincoln-Mercury’s marketing process and content as a result.
An important issue has been halting the spinning of the revolving door at the Lincoln-Mercury marketing department, he said. “A job there was viewed as a stepping stone to more aspirational positions within Ford,” Hutchins said. “With such turnover, it’s not surprising that we found ourselves launching and abandoning nameplate after nameplate, with advertising campaigns and marketing strategies that changed annually, if not more often. I was marketing manager at one point, so I’m speaking from firsthand knowledge.”
The division is also focusing on a more targeted media selection, he said. “Lincoln-Mercury used to be all about mass marketing: national tonnage, lowest adult CPM, efficiency-driven marketing type stuff. In fact, as recently as three years ago, 95 percent of our advertising was in network TV and national magazines.”
The company has shifted to a micro rather than a macro approach, he said, with more of an emphasis on highly targeted direct mail, relationship marketing, event marketing, the Internet, demographic editions of magazines and select cable TV programming.
Meanwhile, the division selected the Chicago office of Wunderman Cato Johnson as its agency of record for event marketing. The office has been working with Lincoln-Mercury on a project basis for the last year, including event planning for Lincoln’s sport utility vehicles.