DETROIT -- Lincoln is launching an advertising campaign today, themed "Luxury Uncovered," in which its 2014 MKZ takes some jabs at rival Lexus.
The commercials, which will run through at least the end of the year, will be shown on prime time network and cable TV shows and will have a social media component.
But Lincoln officials said in a media briefing on the campaign Tuesday that they will not advertise on the 2014 Super Bowl. Lincoln did run a spot on the 2013 Super Bowl, in advance of the launch of the redesigned 2013 MKZ.
Lincoln has another launch on the horizon -- the MKC luxury compact crossover -- but officials have not announced when a production version will appear.
Several of the new spots, featuring the 2014 MKZ sedan, show young couples on a couch in a studio posing questions to a pair of cars facing them: the Lincoln MKZ and the Lexus ES.
In one ad, the man says: "Which of you offers the largest retractable panoramic roof?"
The camera shifts to the cars, which don't utter words. Rather, cartoon-style bubbles appear. The words "That's me" appear above the MKZ in answer to the roof question. The words "I'm very shiny" appears above the Lexus.
The woman then says: "I want standard adaptive suspension. Anybody?"
The MKZ replies: "I have that." The Lexus says: "So shiny."
The man then asks: "Which of you offers inflatable rear-seat belts?" The MKZ again says: "I have that." The Lexus says: "Inflatable what?"
A voiceover says: "When you're looking for a luxury car, make sure you ask the right questions."
In another spot, a couple is shown congratulating an MKZ on winning a 2013 JD Power APEAL Award for best compact premium car. The silver MKZ says "Thank You." The camera returns to the couple, and the woman says: "But wait, are you blushing?"
The camera goes back to the car, which has now turned red.
Lincoln is in the midst of an attempted reinvention that began with the launch of the redesigned 2013 MKZ last spring. Lincoln heralded the MKZ as the first in a new generation of Lincolns that would appeal to a new, younger generation of owners Lincoln calls "progressive luxury customers.
The brand's U.S. sales have skidded 6 percent this year through September in an overall market that has expanded 8 percent.
Andrew Frick, Lincoln group marketing manager, said the MKZ has begun winning more conquest customers. The MKZ Hybrid in particular has won customers from other brands, he said.
"Conquest rates are over 45 percent with the hybrid," he said. The two vehicles most frequently traded for an MKZ are the Lexus ES and Toyota Prius, he said.
Lincoln earlier announced it was doubling production of the MKZ Hybrid from 20 percent to 40 percent of the mix.
The MKZ Hybrid has also helped lower the average Lincoln owner age, one of the highest in the industry. The average age of the 2013 MKZ Hybrid owner is 57, compared with 61 for the previous MKZ Hybrid.
The average household income has also risen to $122,000 for 2013 MKZ Hybrid owners. Lincoln did not give an average income figure for the previous model.
Lincoln will begin the advertising campaign with the MKZ and follow later with ads for some other models, including the MKX crossover.
The ads were created by Lincoln's ad agency Hudson Rouge, an affiliate of Ford's Team Detroit.