Friday, November 25, 2005

Approaching car shoppers where they are

I know. This post is long. But the article is no longer for free at NYT. Sorry.

Snatched from New York Times. Published: October 17, 2005

Meet a New Mercury, Enjoy a Free Coffee
With car shoppers browsing so often online, they are less likely to visit showrooms and fall under the spell of that new-car smell and gleam. So marketers of the new Mercury Milan aren't waiting for you to come to the cars; they are coming to you, and buying you a cup of coffee.
The so-called random acts promotion was introduced on a recent Friday morning in Philadelphia, where regulars at Mums & Pops Cafe got their morning coffee free.
"I just stepped outside because it was a little crazy in there," said Laura Soave Stoppa, a Mercury Milan marketing manager, when reached at the coffee shop. Parked outside was the Milan, the first sedan Mercury has introduced in a decade.
"When you've been out of the marketplace for that long, you have to say, 'Look at us,' and be very direct in your approach," Ms. Stoppa said. Mercury, part of the Ford Motor Company, hopes to persuade younger buyers that it has more to offer than the Grand Marquis that grandpa drives to the Elks Lodge.
Ms. Stoppa said there was no notice to customers that Mercury would be picking up the bill for their morning coffee, and no radio station was doing a live remote.
While people were encouraged to sit in the car, and admire "the finishings around the knobs and the shifters and all the touch points," Ms. Stoppa said it was not being test-driven. Instead, the company handed out swag bags that included a voucher for $50 redeemable at a Mercury showroom in exchange for a test-drive.
Mercury planned similar events in Boston, Atlanta, Austin, Tex., and Los Angeles through mid-November. Marty Padgett, the editor of, said of the campaign: "I think it's smart - it's very guerrilla marketing." ANDREW ADAM NEWMAN


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