Y&R’s Sable Ads Emphasize Mood, Not Features

The TV ads launching the 2000 Mercury Sable are more noteworthy for what they don’t include than what they do.
The campaign, which breaks this week, is the first Mercury work from Young & Rubicam since the agency shifted operations on Ford Motor Co.’s Lincoln Mercury account from Detroit to San Francisco and Irvine, Calif., last year.
The spare, elegant ads will air on national television and use Mercury’s existing tag: “Live life in your own lane.” The estimated $25 million national launch is backed by an additional $20-25 million in dealer ads, also by Y&R, that use the same message and visual approach as the image ads, said sources.
The work seeks to strengthen the Sable’s market position as “the brand for the individualist,” said Ed Collins, Mercury brand team leader at Y&R’s Irvine office.
Designed to offer a unique combination of luxury, safety and styling at an affordable price, the $20,000 sedan is targeted to people who see themselves as bold and independent, Collins said. The agency is trying to reflect those values in the tone and manner of the ads. As a result, they include few words and no product features, he said, and rely instead on stylish special effects and jazzy music to establish a mood. The target audience is 40- to 50-year-olds.
Creative was handled out of San Francisco under executive creative director Michael Belitsos.
In one spot, a woman driving on straight desert road tears out a page of a magazine showing a curvy road on grassy hills. She stops the car, seems to post the page in the air in front of it, then drives into the image.
The agency used similar special effects in Lincoln LS ads that broke last summer. A segment on the making of those ads is due to air on NBC’s Dateline this month.