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Old 10-29-2002, 08:40   #1 (permalink)
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Ford Division boosts ad budget

By Julie Cantwell
Automotive News / October 28, 2002

Ford Division is increasing its 2003 advertising budget, boosting network TV at the expense of cable TV and print advertising, said Steve Lyons, the division's president.

He declined to specify the increase but said it will be less than 25 percent. Ford Division spent $565.3 million on U.S. measured media in 2001.

Next year's increase will reverse a trend of advertising cuts at Ford Division. Its ad budget dropped 10 percent in the first half of this year compared with the year-ago period. The division spent $245 million on U.S. measured media in the first half of the year, according to Competitive Media Reporting in New York.

The additional money will be spent on network TV, mainly on the 20 highest-rated shows.

"We will pick up some along the way that we think are new hot prospects, but really what we want to do is spend our money on the sure things," Lyons said.

This year, the division boosted spending on what is called "upfront" - negotiations for commercial time on desired programs in the next year. The upfront season can be important to automakers because within any commercial segment of a network program, only one can be automotive.

"We have increased our spending in the upfront with the networks by 2 times from where we were," Lyons said. "Because of it, we've had to somewhat diminish our presence in cable and in print. When you do the kinds of numbers we do at Ford Division, you can't reach the customers one at a time. You have to be very mass market-focused."

The division spent $75.2 million on network TV in the first half of this year and $181.7 million for all of 2001, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

Ford is talking to the networks about sponsoring some special TV programs in December and the first quarter, Lyons said. "But we're primarily going to advertise on the top 20 shows," he said.

Ford Motor Co. is increasing the 2003 ad budgets of its other divisions as well, but not by as high of a percentage as Ford Division, said Jan Valentic, the company's vice president of global marketing.
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