Mercury to Up Web Spending Significantly

DETROIT In a major change of tactics, Ford Motor Co.’s Mercury division today said nearly 25 percent of its total marketing communications budget will be allocated to digital efforts and customer relationship events.

“A strategic decision was made to employ the Internet in a way like we have never done before,” said Lincoln Mercury general marketing manager John Fitzpatrick in a statement.

Ford spent $40 million on ads for Mercury last year, and $55 million through the first half of 2004, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

The interactive arm of Mercury’s offline agency, WPP Group’s Young & Rubicam in Detroit, handles online marketing.

As a part of a multimedia campaign, Mercury will launch a Web site in October that will focus on consumer lifestyles and use photography and video imagery. Online ads for the Mercury Mariner, a compact sport utility vehicle, and Mercury Montego, a new midsize sedan, will also appear on Web sites such as epicurious.com, foodnetwork.com, Yahoo!, MSN and weather.com.

The overall push, tagged “New Doors Opened,” will support the launch of six new Mercury products over four years. The offline portion rolls out next month with the introduction of the Mariner and Montego. TV ads break the week of Sept. 13 on programs such as Alias on ABC, Scrubs on NBC, and 24 on Fox.