CHICAGO – Magazine reps convening with Ford Division execs in Detroit later this month won’t have Ford’s Lincoln-Mercury Division to worry about, after all.
Ford Division’s annual magazine summit has, for the past two years, included neither Lincoln-Mercury nor Ford corporate. But earlier this year, Ford Division agency J. Walter Thompson/Detroit met with Lincoln-Mercury agency Young & Rubicam/Detroit to discuss the possibility of joining forces when Ford meets the reps April 30.
But for a raft of reasons – ranging from markedly different model demographics to internecine squabbles over how the two agencies deal with media reps – Ford Division will go it alone.
‘There was talk of it,’ Lincoln-Mercury advertising manager Gerry Donnelly said of the two divisions teaming up. ‘But their message and strategies are quite different from ours.’
Lincoln-Mercury, with models such as the Lincoln Continental and Mercury Villager, skews toward an older, more affluent buyer. Ford, with new Mustang and Festiva models ready to roll in the coming months, favors a younger demographic.
‘We have different objectives,’ Donnelly said. ‘Different timing.’
But other Ford observers said the real difference between Ford Division and Lincoln-Mercury is the way in which they deal with the media.
‘There is a terrible amount of animosity in the sales community in Detroit about how (Ford Division agency) J. Walter Thompson treats the media,’ said one such observer. ‘The word fear is very appropriate. They play hardball. And they don’t let the magazine community in on all the nuances and ground rules.’
Another rep added, ‘It’s like pitching in the dark with them.’
Bob Mancini, senior vp/director of media services at J. Walter Thompson said the meeting with reps will take place with a Ford Division exec (Ford Division media manager Dick Halseth) and a Ford Motor Co. exec (corporate advertising honcho Herb Meyers) in attendance.
‘I don’t think,’ said Mancini, ‘that having Lincoln-Mercury there is a reality-type situation.’
Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)