Section 4 - Case Studies
Tecate Campaign
Paragon Cable
House Foods

Lincoln Mercury
El Pollo Loco
La Opinion
Dinero Seguro

Harris Bank

1999 Campaign Title
"The People Who Move California"

Client: California Lincoln Mercury Dealers Association

Marketing Context
January of 1999 was the first time that CLMDA had developed any type of Spanish-language marketing campaign targeting Hispanics. Overall car sales to Hispanics in California had increased by 9.2% from 1997 to 1998 (Mercury segments only, CYTD July), while Mercury had seen a decrease in Hispanic sales of -13.8%. Our challenge was to develop a campaign that provided the "hard sell" necessary to drive traffic into dealer showrooms during key sales periods, but also to promote the image and help generate awareness of Mercury vehicles. Dealer association advertising normally does not have this dual role but, because of the national Hispanic campaign’s ineffectiveness and irrelevance and the lack of Mercury awareness among the target consumer, it became very evident that fulfilling this dual role would be necessary. Further, we were challenged by the following "realities":

Dealerships are not staffed to service Hispanic consumers; almost no bilingual sales people and no written materials in Spanish.
Many dealerships are dual dealerships (i.e. Ford/Lincoln Mercury, Volvo/Lincoln Mercury. etc.). This left the decision of which make to push in the hands of a salesperson.
In many cases, especially with Ford, Hispanics are persuaded away from Mercury vehicles and towards the comparable and less expensive Ford to close a sale.
Among those who are familiar with Mercury, it was seen as being a slightly "better" brand than Ford, but consumers did not know why. They also felt that the Ford was the same as the Mercury, but that it offered more value for the price.

Campaign Planning
Because budget parameters did not allow for primary research, the agency conducted an extensive analysis of all existing qualitative and quantitative research and utilized account planning disciplines such as one-on-one interviews with consumers and dealer personnel. The research indicated that Hispanics’ awareness of the Mercury brand and its vehicles was nonexistent. Further, the "Imagine yourself in a Mercury" campaign currently in place for National General and Hispanic markets was not being understood by and was irrelevant among Hispanics at this stage in the brand’s life cycle. More importantly, it did not deliver on the core values the target considered important and on which, we knew, Mercury models could deliver. Our conclusion was that the advertising’s original, client-intended direction of adapting to and adopting elements of the National image campaign would have to

change if this campaign was to be successful, so we presented our case to the client which ultimately approved the recommended direction to move away from the national umbrella campaign.

Target Market: California

Target Audience
The Primary target was California affluent Hispanic adults with household incomes of $50K+, who are most likely to purchase Mercury vehicles today. The Secondary target was upwardly mobile Hispanic households for future brand and model consideration. This target was the focus because Lincoln Mercury is a luxury brand that appeals to an upscale consumer. The idea was to align the brand with the inspirational in order to target the affluent consumer, yet appeal to the growing population of middle class Hispanics through their aspirational tendencies.

Campaign Objectives
Although the original charge was "dealer advertising," it was decided that the advertising had to be just as effective at creating a positioning for each of the models, as it would be at increasing brand and model consideration, in order to achieve an increase in qualified dealer traffic. The campaign’s effectiveness was measured by R.L. Polk Hispanic Registrations. We believed that sales were the only true measure of a successful dealer campaign.

Marketing and Communication Strategies
The marketing strategy was driven through a focus on the Cougar, Mountaineer and Villager; the three most likely models to appeal to Hispanics and which are the Mercury flagship models. The idea was to derive inspiration from and aspiration to, Mercury vehicles. Further, at a grass roots level, the brand and the models were aligned with Hispanic targeted events and activities which were upscale and trendy, and where the vehicles could be displayed. Entertainment was a focus for these activities (i.e. comedy shows, concerts) to align the Mercury brand with a lifestyle that is fun and upscale. The communication strategy centered on conveying the brand essence for each model and for the Mercury brand as a whole. These essences were created to be in parallel to the target’s core values as they relate to each of the featured car segment. The following essences were developed for the Mercury brand and for each of the target vehicles:

Mercury Brand
Mercury embodies and delivers what California’s diverse consumers want from a car because only Mercury captures and understands their human essence and spirit.

The Mercury Cougar is uncompromising, it exudes power and it is decisive. When I drive the Cougar, I can push life to the edge and cut through any obstacles because I can feel its guts, its soul and its passion for control.

The Mercury Mountaineer is bold, adventurous and fearless. When I drive the Mountaineer, I can conquer the world, wild or tame, because it gives me the freedom and confidence to go anywhere, anytime.

The Mercury Villager is real, it’s honest and unpretentious. When I drive the Mercury Villager, I can handle life’s realities because I feel protected by its soothing and safe embrace. With it, I can overcome the everyday challenges, big and small, directly and with confidence.

Media Strategy
Media was strategically planned and bought to place the campaign during prime viewing hours, targeting programs that skewed to and which would generate the greatest awareness among the affluent Hispanic target. Television and radio drove campaign delivery in Northern and Southern California. Spots were placed in news and entertainment programming on television. International, romantic and ballad music formats were chosen on radio. Merchandising was negotiated in the form of bonus spots, sponsorship billboards, remotes. All added value aired in and around the same type of programming. Media flights were concentrated during promotional and key holiday periods throughout the year. This allowed Mercury to promote specific sales incentives and generate the greatest amount of awareness during time periods when Hispanic consumers would be most likely to purchase.

Creative Approach
The television executions were developed using "running footage" due to budget constraints. The notion was to take the footage and, through editing, graphics, supers, sound effects and music, impart a specific personality to each model. Original music was developed to obtain an emotional response to the personality of each of the focus vehicles as well as impart an upbeat Latino feel. Overall, the approach was to create an image that Mercury cars were alive and ready to take the target wherever they wanted to go, physically and emotionally.

Overall, during the six-month period in which the campaign aired and from which results from R.L. Polk are available, California Hispanic sales for the Mercury brand increased by 31.9% versus -1% for same period YAG. Comparatively, Non-Hispanic sales increased by only +10.8% during the same period. Cougar, Mercury’s new model, drove the sales increase. Mountaineer also saw a +12% increase in Hispanic sales versus a 10% decrease in Non-Hispanic sales. The Villager saw a slight decrease of -3% in Hispanic sales while Non-Hispanic sales suffered more dramatically with a -13% decline. These three models were the core vehicles featured in the advertising during the first half of 1999. During this same time period in 1998, Hispanic sales made up 8.6% of total California Lincoln Mercury sales. In 1999, Hispanic sales grew to represent 11% of total California Lincoln Mercury sales.

In measuring the success of this campaign, it is also important to note the performance of the Lincoln vehicles during this same time period. While sales of Mercury vehicles were clearly the ultimate goal of this campaign, the initial objective was to drive qualified traffic into dealer showroom. Because all Mercury dealerships in California are also Lincoln dealerships, driving traffic into the dealership through Mercury advertising also generated sales of the Lincoln vehicles. Sales of Lincoln vehicles during this time frame increased by 17.9% compared to a decrease of 21.2% among non-Hispanics. This success among Hispanics in the Sports Specialty and SUV segments have led Lincoln Mercury to include the new LS and the Navigator in the core vehicle set for model year 2000. This will be Lincoln’s first ever effort to target Hispanic consumers.









© 2002 Isabel Valdés - To contact the author, email: or call (650) 322-1922
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