DETROIT - Faced with sagging sales, Lincoln is looking for a fresh voice in its advertising message.
Beginning April 29, Lincoln no longer will talk about "American luxury," the theme it introduced with much fanfare nearly three years ago. Instead Lincoln will ride on the assumption that consumers know what the brand stands for by now.
Lincoln will drop the "American luxury" tag line and begin closing broadcast advertising with a voiceover: "There are those who travel and those who travel well."
Lincoln began touting the concept of American luxury in 1998. It became a tag line in 1999, after Wolfgang Reitzle joined the company as head of the Premier Automotive Group. Reitzle championed American luxury as a way to set Lincoln apart from the other Premier brands: Jaguar, Volvo, Land Rover and Aston Martin.
But Anne Belec, Lincoln Mercury general marketing manager, said the phrase did nothing to make the brand stand out.
"Customers were telling us that 'American luxury' defined the area we're competing in but was not saying how Lincoln is different from other American luxury brands," Belec said.
American luxury remains an internal strategy, Belec said; Lincoln just won't tell consumers about it anymore.
It wasn't getting the sales job done, either.
Lincoln enjoyed a 9.4 percent increase in U.S. sales in 2000, after the arrival of the LS sedan. But Lincoln's U.S. sales dropped 17.7 percent last year, and they were off another 21.5 percent in the first quarter of this year.