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Ford Division Seeks Women's Attention

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With research pointing to women's prominent role in caring for the family vehicle, Ford Customer Service Division hopes its new linkup with the entertainment industry will convey the full value of its offering to that influential segment.

The Ford Motor Co. parts and service unit, which includes the Ford/Lincoln/Mercury Quality Care Auto Service program at the company's 4,500 U.S. dealerships, is teaming with Disney for an integrated marketing campaign that breaks today.

It is the first time FCSD has participated in such a high-profile, entertainment-oriented deal, said Jamy Cureton, director of marketing and North American business development at FCSD. And the division's desire to reach out to women, a customer segment for whom automotive parts are not necessarily a major part of life, is one of the primary motivators for the effort.

The campaign, from Ogilvy & Mather in Dearborn, Mich., includes a sweepstakes tied into the summer Disney movie Pirates of the Caribbean. Cureton said the deal makes sense, for example, because the movie would appeal to those with families. Research has shown that in many instances, the wife and/or mother in the family is responsible for dropping the family vehicle off for service, she said.

Female customers have often appeared in service-center ads in the past. But Ford believes their influential position in the household demands a more targeted communications approach, in part because women are not usually the focus of most advertising in the category.

"We're trying to make it so they feel very comfortable [bringing the vehicle in for service]," Cureton said. "I think the convenience factor will be a big hit for them, as well as some of the competitive price points."

Three 30-second national TV spots, which are slated to run through the end of May, are filmed at a real Quality Care dealership and show actual Ford, Lincoln and Mercury technicians doing their job. Shots include employees talking to customers and working on vehicles. The background music throughout is the song "Nobody" by The Human Beinz. The effort is tagged, "Nobody knows your Ford, Lincoln or Mercury better. Nobody does it better all in one spot."

Print is appearing in newsweeklies and dailies, as well as an advertorial that will run in women's magazines such as Good Housekeeping, Marie Claire and Country Living. The advertorial offers readers advice on spring preparations, including getting their vehicles serviced, Cureton said.

Spots will be localized for both regional dealer groups and individual dealers, said Danielle Russell, Ogilvy executive group director.

Spending on the new campaign or the Disney deal was undisclosed. Ford spending for Quality Care totaled about $35 million in 2002, according to CMR.

The U.S. motor-vehicle aftermarket, which maintains, repairs and accessorizes vehicles after they are sold by dealers, is a $250 billion industry employing millions of Americans at more than 500,000 locations, according to the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association.