Lincoln launching ad blitz to get back on radar
Multimedia campaign begins this week, will include Super Bowl
Photo credit: BLOOMBERG
Ford Motor Co.'s Lincoln luxury brand today launched its biggest advertising campaign, a multimedia initiative that will include a one-minute spot during the Super Bowl on Feb. 3.
The ads, appearing in conjunction with the launch of the 2013 MKZ sedan this month, go live today accompanied by events in New York, Miami and Los Angeles.
Ford CEO Alan Mulally and global Lincoln chief Jim Farley hosted a press conference at Lincoln Center in New York this morning.
They announced the rebranding of Lincoln as Lincoln Motor Co., the name it had when Ford Motor Co. purchased it in 1922.
"The new Lincoln brand will be defined by great new luxury vehicles, such as the new MKZ, that feature quality, unique style with substance and innovative technology," Mulally said in a statement. "These elements, coupled with a new level of warm, personal and surprising experiences, will enable Lincoln to appeal to today's new luxury customer."
Matt VanDyke, Lincoln's global head of marketing, sales and service, said today that late-night television host Jimmy Fallon will “be working as a curator,” sorting through suggestions from Twitter users.
“We're going to invite the Twitter universe to co-develop this Lincoln commercial for us,” VanDyke said.
After getting ideas from the Twitter-verse, Lincoln's New York-based advertising agency, Hudson Rouge, will develop a 60-second Super Bowl commercial.
VanDyke said he is uncertain whether the spot will be released online prior to the Feb. 3 game -- a move done by nearly all automotive Super Bowl advertisers last year. Ford's decision will depend on the nature of the ad, he said.
He said Lincoln decided to use the Super Bowl, which Ford skipped last year, because it needs to build awareness quickly for Lincoln after this month's launch of the MKZ mid-sized sedan.
“It's clearly scale, reach,” he said. “You're going to get noticed when you go with the Super Bowl.”
The advertising campaign launching today will run in a broad range of media, including television shows such as “The Voice” and “Modern Family,” rather than the opinion-leader media often favored by luxury brands, he said.
-- Dave Guilford
The rebranding was first reported in September by Automotive News.
Matt VanDyke, Lincoln's global head of marketing, sales and service, said the campaign is meant as a "call to action" to signal that the 97-year-old brand is in for a big change.
"Lincoln has been off the radar for many people. What we want to do is establish it quickly. We're going to have to use high profile placements, use every tool in the toolbox," VanDyke said in an interview last week at the Los Angeles Auto Show.
Lincoln will launch three commercials this week including a 60-second brand spot and two 30-second spots. Among the characters in the commercials will be President Abraham Lincoln, for whom the brand was named, and former Lincoln owner Dean Martin.
The ad campaign has been created by Lincoln's New York agency, Hudson Rouge. Lincoln announced the formation of the agency a year ago but the name wasn't announced until last week. The agency is owned by WPP, the global group that owns Team Detroit, the Ford brand agency.
VanDyke: "Lincoln has been off the radar for many people. What we want to do is establish it quickly. We're going to have to use high profile placements, use every tool in the toolbox."
Hudson Rouge will use Team Detroit resources, including ad buying. The name refers to the Hudson and Rouge rivers. Ford's famous Rouge plant takes its name from the river.
"What has created a different challenge for Lincoln -- this isn't just a vehicle line launch; it's the transformation of a brand," said VanDyke.
VanDyke declined to say how much Lincoln is spending, but said the campaign will be the biggest in Lincoln history. The multimedia campaign will include full-page print ads in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and USA Today. The ads will carry the provocative headline: "Does the world need another luxury car? Not really."
Text will be used to explain Lincoln's reasons for believing there is an unfilled need in the luxury space.
Lincoln spent $175 million in 2011, down 23 percent from the previous year, according to the Advertising Age Data Center from 100 Leading Advertisers reports, based on measured media tabulated by Kantar Media. Advertising Age is an affiliate of Automotive News.
Lincoln will also launch a new Web site. Everything about Lincoln's communications will be altered, down to dealer catalogs, VanDyke said.
In reinventing Lincoln, Ford is taking a page from the playbook the Ford brand used to transform itself from a maker of gas-guzzling trucks to a maker of more fuel efficient vehicles after the 2009 financial crisis.
Lincoln has seen its sales and market share dwindle as Ford failed to invest in new products and Lincoln's customer base aged. At an average buyer age of 65, Lincoln's customer base has been one of the industry's oldest.
Lincoln wants to attract a new type of customer, which it refers to as cultural progressives. VanDyke says Lincoln research shows these customers account for about one-quarter of the luxury market. They are curious about new experiences, open to new ideas and younger and wealthier than Lincoln's current customers, Ford has said.
Ford announced a new executive structure in November with Farley as the global head of Lincoln and VanDyke as head of marketing, sales and service. Lincoln also announced plans to launch in China in 2014.
The Lincoln Motor Co. reference does not mean that Lincoln is now a separate profit and loss center within Ford.
Said VanDyke: "It's a marketing tag line but also a call to action to Lincoln customers to signal a real and substantive change."
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