Lincoln will boost the luxe next year. The 2013 Lincoln MKZ, for example, has a push-button automatic transmission -- then again, so did my grandfather's Plymouth Valiant from the '60s. But the true luxury-marketing angle is that Lincoln, facing tough competition in the segment, will offer potential customers the chance to interact with a live concierge 24/7, starting next year. OK, not exactly live, but live online.
Apparently shoppers who can't make the effort to select a color choice on the Lincoln configurator site will be able to ask a person to change the color from black to white so that they won't have to take the trouble to click on a mouse.
Jim Farley, Ford's global marketing chief, introduced the car and the new marketing elements April 2, on the eve of the New York International Auto Show. He has been focused for months on rejuvenating the Lincoln brand as a premium statement for parent Ford's, an effort that he said "will take years." Models like the MKZ, going up against Lexus, Mercedes-Benz and Cadillac, "are only one part of Lincoln's transformation," he said. "They have to be matched with personal and innovative customer service at every step."
Beyond the online-concierge play -- which will walk shoppers through the features of a Lincoln, as well as compare it with other brands -- Mr. Farley is taking a cue from the boutique hotels that cater to the hip and fashionable. He has contracted with Les Clefs d'Or, the international association of hotel concierges, to consult with the brand's sales and service teams and teach them the fine points of elegant hospitality. That program begins this summer, he said.
Also expected to be up and running by the summer is a New York-based ad agency, spun off from Ford's Team Detroit, dedicated to marketing the Lincoln brand. Details, including its name, are expected in a couple of weeks, according to agency President Cameron McNaughton, whose business card identifies him as a member of "The Yet to Be Named Lincoln Agency."