A new Web site promoting Mercury's Mariner SUV walks in the footsteps of Burger King's "Subservient Chicken" porn spoof and AmEx's "Seinfeld and Superman" adventures. Like those campaigns, this effort walks the line between content and advertising.
The serialized site is part of Mercury's "New Doors Opened" campaign. Called "Meet The Lucky Ones," it features lavish video shorts that play out over the course of five weeks.
The site and video spots tell the story of ten characters, presumably the "Lucky Ones," who will be featured over the site's lifespan. A set of initial spots that went up this week introduce those characters and establish several plot elements that will presumably be picked up next week. A teaser video greets first-time visitors to the online destination.
Mercury agency Wunderman Detroit used a very light branding touch in creating the site, placing only tiny, unobtrusive links to its client and the Mariner SUV product page. The hands-off approach is reminiscent of a number of online campaigns that have tried to boost brands through outstanding original creative, rather than prominent placement. They include Burger King's "Subservient Chicken," created by Crispin Porter + Bogusky; Seinfeld's heavily forwarded team-up with Superman for American Express; and 2001's now-legendary action mini-films by BMW.
Mercury, a division of Ford, said "Meet the Lucky Ones" is specifically pushing its Mariner SUV to a group of younger voters. The Mercury brand has long been associated with older drivers, and the new ad spending is geared toward changing that perception.
The company made several interactive ad buys to promote the site, including a premier ad placement over Yahoo's "In the News" summary. It also set up a Mariner giveaway sweepstakes.
"The project will be backed by a significant online campaign aimed at generating millions of impressions and driving traffic," said John Fitzpatrick, Lincoln Mercury's general marketing manager.
Mercury is at the beginning of its "New Doors Opened" campaign, promoting the launch of six Mercury products over four years. Twenty-five percent of spending will go to digital and experimental marketing, with the bulk of that sum going online.
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Until March 2012, Zach Rodgers was managing editor of ClickZ's award-winning coverage of news and trends in digital marketing. He reported on the rise of web companies, data markets, ad technologies, and government Internet policy, among other subjects.
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