Mercury Targets The Design-Savvy With New Voga Brand

Ford's Mercury brand, which the company is targeting to design-conscious consumers, is introducing a fashion-statement sub-brand called Voga, which will first appear as a version of the 2008 Mercury Mariner SUV, on sale early next year.

The Voga design theme, which will comprise versions of several Mercury vehicles, will first appear on the Mariner SUV. The Voga Mariner will have a moss-green metallic paint scheme, chrome grille, rear fascia trim and Voga badging, including 17-inch, Voga-capped chrome wheels. Inside, the vehicle has a charcoal black tone, with Cashmere leather seats, trimmed with contrasting stitch-work that matches the exterior. The floor mats will also wear the Voga label.

The company has had several fashion-centered efforts this year and last. Mercury previewed the Voga design concept last year at Miami Fashion Week. In September, the company inked a deal with Elle magazine specifically to promote its Milan sedan and Mariner and Mariner Hybrid crossovers to younger consumers. The relationship included product placement at Elle events at the fashion store Henri Bendel.



Mercury also ran several events around Fashion Week in New York, at which the Ford division had a branded lounge, products on display and ads on taxi cabs. Ford was presenting sponsor of the Mercury Style Award, promoted via a spread in American Photo magazine that featured Mercury vehicles and winning designs. Donna Karan designer Anthony Prozzi helps design Mercury-vehicle interiors.

A Mercury spokesperson, Alan Hall, says the company will support with promotional activity and PR to fashion media. He says the second step will be dealer outreach. "The thing about these special editions is that they are niche products. To make a business case for them you don't want to have to advertise. You want to communicate through the media that add an element of endorsement," he says. "If you read about Voga in a fashion blog, that adds credibility to it."

Last week Mercury unveiled the production version of the Voga Mariner in Miami, a city in which Mercury has focused several efforts because "it's a great place to find savvy individualists who don't want to be seen buying mainstream brands. And Miami influences trends in fashion." He adds that Mercury buyers skew higher for Hispanic consumers and for women.

"The people we are going after see the car as a fashion accessory. We aren't marketing it to women directly. We do skew higher in female sales, but it's not a female target, per se."

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