National ads for the slow-selling Mercury Monterey minivan will launch Monday, Feb. 2.
The ads begin even as Ford Motor Co. is temporarily stopping production of the Monterey and the Ford Freestar at the Oakville, Ontario, assembly plant to reduce inventories.
The plant will be down for two weeks beginning Feb. 9 and then for another week in March. That is on top of an additional down week in mid-December.
The Monterey went on sale last fall, selling 2,213 by year end. But 6,200 Montereys were in stock on Jan. 1, a huge 230-day supply. Ford had a 131-day supply of the Freestar.
"Have sales been slow?" asked George Pipas, Ford's sales analysis and reporting manager. "Yes. Did we expect them to be slow? Yes."
Minivans typically sell best in the spring.
Until now, Mercury had limited its national Monterey marketing to an AOL Internet campaign last fall. Mercury showrooms had been without a minivan since the Villager was discontinued in 2002. The new campaign includes TV, newspapers and magazines.
Ford Division will expand its Freestar advertising in February. TV spots for the Freestar started last fall, but they dried up during the winter.
In addition to the Monterey ads, Lincoln Mercury will launch phase two of Lincoln's "Travel Well" ad campaign on Monday.
Four commercials featuring the Lincoln Town Car and the Navigator and Aviator SUVs will air on such programs as ABC's "Good Morning America," NBC's "Today Show" and CBS's "48 Hours." The "Travel Well" campaign debuted nearly two years ago, but widely distributed national ads were last seen in early 2003.
Lincoln has no new or redesigned products this year. The round of image advertising was deemed an important way to maintain brand awareness until the Mark LT pickup and an entry-level sedan arrive in 2005.
Lincoln Navigator and Aviator ads featuring former NBA star Magic Johnson also will air on ESPN and on nationally televised NBA games in February.
The division would not disclose how much it is spending on the campaign. All together, said Lincoln Mercury spokesman Todd Nissen, about 400 spots will appear on national and cable TV during the next three weeks.