JFK Jr. sought Magna funds
Magna International Inc. has its own JFK Jr. story to tell. A few weeks ago, Keith Stein, Magna's vice president of corporate affairs, met with the late John F. Kennedy Jr. to discuss the future of Kennedy's financially troubled magazine, George. According to Magna spokesman Graham Orr, Kennedy wanted to identify organizations or individuals willing to bail out the publication. It was not clear how Stein and Kennedy hooked up, Orr said, and Magna does not intend to try its hand at publishing. 'It is unrelated to Magna. We have no interest in magazines,' Orr said. Kennedy died in a plane crash July 16. Magna has been criticized recently for branching out into nonautomotive activities such as racetracks.
HORSE SHOW -- Ferrari S.p.A., the 'Prancing Horse' brand, introduced its all-new, 400-hp, 360 Modena model to the U.S. market last week with a 400-horse publicity stunt. That is, the kind of horse that consumes oats, not gasoline. At the Meadowlands horse track in East Rutherford, N.J., a 360 Modena dashed out onto the dirt track and raced past the crowd, closely pursued by a herd of horses. A team of hat-waving, hollering, whip-cracking cowboys urged the horses to run. But the car easily outraced them - and with much lower emissions.
MERCURIAL ADS -- Mercury will drop the 'Imagine yourself in a Mercury' tag line in new ads this fall for the 2000 model year. The new tag is 'Live life in your own lane' and was created by Y&R Advertising in Irvine and San Francisco, Calif. The old tag debuted in Y&R ads for 1996 models. In the fall of 1995, Keith Magee, then general manager of Lincoln Mercury, described the campaign strategy as 'one of the most customer-researched' in the division's history. Also say bye-bye to the 'Imagine TV' ad theme that spoofed TV channel surfing. In the fall of 1997, then-general manager Jim O'Connor, now president of Ford Division, touted the Imagine TV ads as 'proof that Mercury has resolved its ambiguity and is ready to create its own branch on the Ford Motor Co. family tree.'
INITIAL PUBLIC MURMURING -- Is Ken Way trying to pull off the mother of all mergers? Word on the street has it that the cagey chairman of Southfield, Mich.-based Lear Corp. is negotiating a merger with Dearborn, Mich.-based Visteon Automotive Systems, Ford Motor Co.'s in-house parts supplier. At a recent Automotive News roundtable of suppliers, Way declined to comment on it. 'Ten years ago, we were just a stamping supplier,' he shrugged. 'I don't know where the heck we are going next.' Responding to rumors that Ford might sell or spin off Visteon, Ford CEO Jac Nasser told USA Today, 'It's inevitable. Something has to happen.'