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December 22, 2006 6:04 pm

Ford drives new Edge in digital campaign

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Ford Motor will pull out the stops in North America over the Christmas season to promote its new Edge mid-sized cross-over vehicle, one of the most crucial models in its Way Forward turnround plan.

The carmaker describes the push as its biggest-ever digital campaign. It aims to generate more than 500m “consumer impressions” this weekend with tactics that range from putting life-size foam models atop billboards to ads on the home pages of the MSN, Yahoo and AOL portals.

Ford declined to disclose its marketing budget for the Edge but said it was comparable to last year’s introduction of the Fusion saloon. Advertising Age has estimated the outlay at about $80m.

Rebecca Lindland, analyst at Global Insight, said the Edge brought Ford into a segment dominated up to now by Japanese manufacturers. Cross-overs look like sport-utilities but are built like cars, giving a smoother ride and better fuel consumption.

Larry Webster, technical director at Car & Driver magazine, who has driven the Edge, said: “It’s a respectable car, but is it the awesome product that is going to catapult Ford forward? I don’t think so.”

The marketing push is not without risks. Andre Gach, sales manager at a Ford dealership in Madison, Connecticut, said that while he foresaw healthy demand for the Edge, “unfortunately, we don’t have any”.

Ford responded that its distributors “are getting them out there as quickly as they can”.

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