BEIJING -- Ford Motor Co. is going to the movies to promote its latest model in China.
Ford this summer enlisted eight of the country's emerging movie directors to create short films that show how the Ford Focus mid-sized sedan fits into city life.
"The idea is to appeal to modern, urban Chinese consumers," says Randy Krieger, vice president of marketing, sales and service at Changan Ford Automobile Co., a Ford joint venture in China. "They are very interested and involved in China's rapidly developing movie industry."
Ford showed the eight movies - each three minutes long - on popular Chinese Web sites. The films displayed the Focus in various urban settings in China. Viewers could vote online for their favorite film. The director of the most popular film will win a new Focus.
Ford introduced the Focus at the Shanghai auto show in April. Ford began taking orders for the car in China last month. The target audience for the Focus in China is white-collar men 27 and older, says brand manager Joseph Chiu. The success of the Focus is crucial to Ford's success in the country, industry analysts say.
"This segment is the heart of the China market," says Ashvin Chotai, director of Asian automotive industry research at Global Insight in London.
The Focus will compete primarily with the Buick Excelle, Volkswagen Bora and Toyota Corolla. All are priced between 143,000 and 183,000 yuan - about $17,300 to $22,130 at current exchange rates. The three Focus sedan versions available in China are priced at $15,830 to $21,920.
Ford has had mixed success with launches. The Fiesta subcompact, which debuted in January 2003, was lambasted by Chinese media as having old technology. Ford had to reduce the car's price several times.
Sales in China of the Fiesta fell 52.0 percent in the first seven months of 2005 from the year-ago period, to 6,275 vehicles, says Automotive Resources Asia in Shanghai.
The launch of the China-produced Mondeo full-sized sedan in March was preceded by months of publicity. The Chinese press gave it generally favorable reviews.
From its March launch through August, 19,948 Mondeos were sold in China.
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