Mercedes-Benz and Jaguar are joining rival BMW in using web movies to sell cars to luxury buyers comfortable with the internet age.

On October 18 M-B released a 13-minute movie called The Porter to market its new CLS, an E class-based model that M-B calls a four-door coupe. The CLS went on sale in Europe this month. M-B spokeswoman Eva Guratzsch told Automotive News Europe the automaker made The Porter to help it promote emotionality as a brand value.

"We can give information in a much deeper and more detailed way than in classic advertising," said Guratzsch.

The Internet is gaining importance in automotive marketing as more prospective buyers go to the web before they visit a dealer. According to a recent study in the US by JD Power and Associates, 64% of new car buyers use the internet as a first step.

The Porter tells the story of a hotel employee working in a five-star hotel in Budapest who becomes entangled in a diamond smuggling plot. The film's stars are Australian pop diva Dannii Minogue, Hungarian top model Annamaria Cseh and English singer and actor Max Beesley. Bryan Ferry, ex-frontman of the British pop group Roxy Music, re-recorded his hit single "Fool for Love" for the movie. M-B is giving away tickets to a VIP concert by Ferry in Hamburg on November 17 tied in with The Porter marketing campaign.

With its internet movie called X-ing Over aimed at US consumers Jaguar hopes to attract young, first time luxury car buyers to its X-Type lower premium model. The movie centres around people trapped in mundane daily routines until they come into contact with an X-Type and are transported into an exciting fantasy world.

Los Angeles-based Peter Chung, who has worked for Disney and MTV, directed X-ing Over. Chung is a well-known director of anime films, an increasingly popular style of animation, usually adult oriented, with its roots in Japanese comic books.

Jaguar started releasing episodes of X-ing Over on October 25. The movie also will be used at motor show and dealer promotions.

Three years ago BMW was the first automaker to start making web-marketing films with a car-chase movie series called The Hire that internet users could download and watch on their computer screens. The episodes featured English actor Clive Owen as a BMW driver whose job is to transport clients safely to their destination, pursued by a host of bad guys. Madonna and Mickey Rourke made cameo appearances. BMW says more than 65 million computer users have seen the 5-10 minute films directed by big Hollywood names such as Ridley Scott and Ang Lee.

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