Lincoln began advertising the 2009 MKS last week. The large sedan, available in front- or all-wheel drive, is expected to begin shipping to dealers this week.
"We are spending a lot of money," said Pei-Wen Hsu, marketing manager for the MKS. "This is a critical launch for the Lincoln brand."
Ford spent more than $100 million to introduce the redesigned 2004 F-150 pickup; it plans a similar budget to market the 2009 F-150. The MKS budget may not be quite that high during the next six months, Hsu said, but she declined to share the amount.
The dramatic shift in industry sales away from trucks underscores the need to get the word out about Ford Motor's new cars.
"In the past, trucks had all the attention. But nowadays, a sedan launch is critical," Hsu said.
During the first five months of 2008, Ford's F-series sales fell 18.7 percent. As sales of pickups drop, Ford must replace their profit contribution by maximizing sales of other high-margin vehicles, such as Lincoln sedans.
Still, the MKS will have a lot less volume to carry a marketing spend worthy of the F series. Ford sold 690,589 F-series pickups in 2007.
Lincoln aims to sell about 19,000 MKS sedans by year end, Hsu said. With a full year of output, Lincoln targets sales of around 36,000 in 2009.