Rugrats Go For A Ride

Ford Motor Co.’s Lincoln-Mercury division is teaming up with the Rugrats cartoon characters in a joint promotion linked to the Rugrats movie scheduled to open in November.
Young & Rubicam, Detroit, Lincoln-Mercury’s national agency, is putting together a print and TV campaign tying the all-new ’99 model Mercury Villager minivan to the Rugrats, said Ian G. Beavis, Lincoln-Mercury’s marketing communications manager. The spot, which Beavis called “hysterical,” combines animation and live action.
An animatic version of the Mercury Villager spot was recently shown to dealers, who “absolutely loved it,” Beavis said.
The spot works well with the Mercury brand’s “Imagine TV” campaign (which places Mercurys into snippets of mock TV shows), Beavis said. “There is a similar feeling between them,” he said.
Lincoln-Mercury struck the deal with Nickelodeon, which unveiled the animated series in 1991, and Paramount Studios, which is putting together the feature film.
Lincoln-Mercury will place Mercury Villagers in the lobbies of selected theaters as part of the promotional activities, Beavis said.
“We researched it and it’s really a perfect fit for Mercury in terms of personality,” he said. The Rugrats are perceived as “a little edgy and off-center, a lot like Mercury,” Beavis said. Consumer recognition of the Rugrats characters is “astonishing,” he said, even among people who don’t have children.
“[Research showed] by connecting the Rugrats with Mercury, people perceived it as Mercury stepping outside the box and being more contemporary and contemporary family-oriented, but not sugarcoated.”
–with T.L. Stanley and David Kiley