Lincoln will tout product features in an advertising campaign that debuts today, April 29, a significant change from its brand-image advertising.
To support the 2003 model-year campaign, Lincoln will double the money it spends on network TV this year.
The message change comes as Lincoln starts rolling out products for the 2003 model year: the redesigned Navigator on May 8, a re-engineered Town Car in about a month, and the new Aviator mid-sized sport-utility and a restyled LS sports sedan this fall.
The brand's U.S. sales dropped 17.7 percent last year and were down 21.5 percent in the first quarter of this year.
Lincoln drops the "American luxury" message in the campaign, but nothing will replace the tag line anytime soon. Commercials close with a voice-over: "There are those who travel. And those who travel well."
"Whereas 'American luxury' not only was our brand strategy and positioning but also was used as a tag line, 'Travel well' is not a tag line," said Ann Kalass, marketing communications manager for Lincoln Mercury. "We're inviting consumers to experience more than the driving dynamics, to experience the whole idea of travel in a luxurious way."
The campaign by Lincoln's ad agency, Young & Rubicam Inc., starts with a commercial that portrays a luxurious lifestyle while showing Lincoln's full line of vehicles. Commercials that follow for the individual vehicles will focus on their features.
For example, spots for the Navigator tout four power-operated features: the running board, liftgate, folding exterior mirrors and the third row of seats.
Lincoln will double the money it spends on network TV this year, Kalass said, but she would not specify the dollar amount. Lincoln Mercury spent $64.8 million on network TV last year, according to Competitive Media Reporting.
The increased network TV money mostly was diverted from magazine spending, Kalass said. Last year, Lincoln Mercury spent $58.8 million on magazines and $257.2 million on all measured media in the United States, according to Competitive Media Reporting.
All commercials in the campaign have adopted a consistent musical theme, Latin jazz.
One spot features actor Dennis Hopper, but he will not become a Lincoln spokesman, Kalass said.
"You will see him again, but in a very targeted way, not with a national scope," she said. "The idea we were trying to capture was somebody who has lived well, somebody who has been an icon like the Lincoln brand, someone our target knows and respects."
Lincoln began touting the concept of American luxury in 1998.