A Lincoln Mercury division revival plan is resulting in the direct personal involvement of Mercury marketing manager Elena Ford, who is a second cousin of company CEO and chairman William Clay Ford, Jr, The Car Connection (TCC) website said.

Following on from Bill Ford’s recent appearances in TV ads, including those for the recall-plagued Focus, now, TCC says, Ms. Ford is appearing personally on TV newscasts in Detroit and other major cities to promote Mercury’s 2003 model lines, giving the midmarket brand unprecedented association with the Ford family name.

TCC added that Elena Ford reportedly plans to make presentations at Lincoln Mercury press events during the Detroit and Chicago motor shows this winter, as the company kicks off a turnaround programme for both of its upscale brands.

That turnaround is needed. TCC said that, after posting a profit of $US1.2 billion in 2000, LM lost about $1 billion last year and is facing a comparable loss for 2002.

TCC said that, year to date, Mercury sales in the US have tumbled 16% while Lincoln is down 7.7%. The website said new models should help the brands’ recovery with Lincoln now launching a Ford Explorer spin-off called the Aviator and Mercury due to get an Escape-based compact SUV next year alongside an in-house-designed Villager minivan replacement (for one designed with Nissan) on top of the high-performance Marauder sedan introduced last summer.

The Car Connection said that Elena Ford has declared “Mercury will be getting a full lineup of new models over the next few years as the step-up brand from Ford,” and said that should counter any ideas the brand would be axed in the US as it was in Canada in 2000.

According to TCC, Bill Ford gave this reply in a recent interview: “Do you think I would have sent my cousin over to run Mercury marketing if we were planning its termination?”