IQ News: It Takes an iVillage: Ford Signs as Sponsor




IVillage.com: The Women’s Network and Ford are teaming up this month in a marketing partnership linking the women-targeted site to Ford’s BuyerConnection.com. BuyerConnection, an area off Ford’s corporate site that launched in January, allows visitors not only to browse Ford vehicle offerings but also make connections with dealers near them.
“We’re humble enough to know that not everyone will come to Ford.com,” explained Thor Ibsen, manager of Internet and new media marketing and sales operations for the Detroit-based automaker. “We want to bring the experience to you.”
Ford, which had utilized a more manufacturer-driven marketing plan pushing individual models, is now looking to forge more personal relationships, said Ibsen. The new focus: building ties between potential customers and dealers with BuyerConnection and DealerConnection sites, respectively. Another area, OwnerConnection, services Ford vehicle owners to further build customer loyalty.
While Ford has made media buys on America Online and Microsoft Network to tout its consumer car-buying site, the partnership with New York-based iVillage provides another opportunity to woo consumers, especially the historically difficult-to-reach female audience.
“From a niche standpoint, it was one of the most important [media buys],” said Ibsen. The vertical portal reaches professional women ages 25-49.
IVillage officials are in a quiet period following the company’s IPO, and declined comment.
The iVillage deal, the cost of which was undisclosed, comes as Ford is hammering out a year-long, multimillion-dollar deal with youth-oriented Digital Entertainment Network (DEN), Santa Monica, Calif., that would make Ford the sole auto sponsor of DEN’s Internet network of television-like content targeted toward different teen submarkets. Ford will use DEN, which launches in May, to tout its new Focus car along with the Mustang and Cougar [IQ, March 22].
Also last week, iVillage launched MoneyLife, a personal finance site. Both its automotive and financial areas were developed after surveys showed that women want solution-oriented online resources.