Ford, Gemstar-TV Guide Near Ad Deal

NEW YORK — Gemstar-TV Guide International and Ford Motor Co. are expected to announce a wide-ranging, 18-month advertising agreement Tuesday that will make Ford the first long-term automotive advertiser on Gemstar’s interactive program guide.

Gemstar (GMST), which owns TV Guide magazine and related media platforms, also operates an on-screen program guide for digital cable systems that allows consumers to scan program listings, order movies and peruse “clickable” advertisements.

Under the agreement, Gemstar, Ford Motor’s (F) Ford division and WPP Group PLC’s (WPPGY) J. Walter Thompson agency will set up a quarterly advertising schedule that runs from the second quarter of 2001 through the third quarter of 2002. Additionally, Ford will be able to make use of certain future program-guide technologies relevant to the automotive category.

Ford “will have the ability to do a lot of different things with the interactive program guide. It’s an evolving media,” said Jeffrey Mahl, president of media sales for Gemstar-TV Guide. Ford, he added, “has always been very aggressive to latch on to new technologies. We are a new technology.”

Mr. Mahl said Gemstar’s interactive program guide reaches 12 million homes, and is expected to reach 20 million homes by the end of 2001.

For Ford, the interactive program guide represents “a suite approach” to reaching customers, said Andy Prakken, a director of communications planning at JWT’s Detroit office. The agreement allows Ford to advertise and also to get involved in direct marketing and e-commerce, Mr. Prakken said.

Both Mr. Mahl and Mr. Prakken declined to specify the financial terms of the agreement, but a person familiar with this type of advertising deal suggested it was most likely in the range of $1 million to $2 million.

Copyright (c) 2001 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.