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051122_1Although Mercury denies it's re-branding itself for women, it has clearly become a more "woman-friendly" brand. It's sponsoring the development of independent films by women, getting involved with high-end fashion shows, and partnering with dealerships to offer the Make Your Day sweepstakes, the prize being a day to pamper yourself with a makeover, manicure and coffee. As long as they don't paint the cars pink, the guys seem to be okay with this!

Detroit Free Press: Ford's chick brand? by Sarah A. Webster

Mercury's official position that it is gender-neutral seems difficult to square with Mercury's highly female-oriented campaign. "That's what they're doing," Gordon Wangers, chief executive officer of AMCI Inc., an automotive marketing firm in Marina Del Rey, Calif., said of Mercury's apparent targeting of women. Karl Greenberg, a reporter who follows the auto industry for Brandweek magazine in New York City, even noted how Mercury's campaign is packaged in a soft, muted color scheme. "There's really little question they're directing most of their brand at women," he said.

Plenty of car and truck models over the years have been aimed toward women -- minivans, the VW Beetle and or Volvo's 2004 YCC, or "Your Concept Car," which was designed for and by women. But few marketing experts could remember an entire brand being positioned for women. Coming off as a chick brand in the auto business has risks. There's an old adage in the auto industry: You can sell a woman a man's car, but you can't sell a man a woman's car. Some experts, however, say this long-feared risk is overblown -- and outdated.