Latest Lincoln Effort Stars 'Mad Man' John Slattery

Ford Hopes Actor Will Be Familiar Enough, but Not Overpower Brand

By Published on . 14

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Ford Motor Co. is breaking a campaign for its Lincoln MKX and MKZ Hybrid, hoping a dose of "celebrity lite" will add star power to the ads while letting the brand take center stage.

The "Smarter Than Luxury" campaign, from WPP's Team Detroit, launches with three 30-second spots featuring actor John Slattery that will debut Saturday during NBC's telecast of the Ryder Cup golf tournament, and will continue on ABC's "Dancing With the Stars," "Grey's Anatomy" and "Jimmy Kimmel Live"; Fox's "Glee"; and NBC's "The Tonight Show." TV is backed by print ads in publications such as Forbes, New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Wired, Bon Appetit and Road and Track. The digital component at Lincoln.com is highlighted by a series of feature-focused videos hosted by Paul Hochman, gear and technology editor for NBC's "Today Show," and Katie Linendoll, a regular guest commentator on CNN.

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The three 30-second spots featuring Slattery debut on Saturday.

Mr. Slattery, a noted character actor, was a very careful selection by Lincoln. He is recognizable enough from roles on "Ed," "Desperate Housewives" and "Mad Men," where he currently stars as ad-agency owner Roger Sterling, but not so recognizable as to overwhelm the brand with celebrity endorsement.

While he might be recognizable to everyone in the ad industry, in the rest of the country he's no Tom Cruise. Still, he's not a C-list soap star, either. He's ... everyman.

"John is parallel to the Lincoln brand," Connie Fontaine, Lincoln's luxury and non-traditional communications manager, told Ad Age. "A lot of people say they know John, have heard of John, but can't quite put their finger on him. It's 'Where do I know that guy from?' People say they've heard of Lincoln and know Lincoln, but then they're surprised when they get in a dealership and see one."

Lincoln - Nobody's Fool
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Lincoln - Not Born Yesterday
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Two print ads from the new campaign.

Mr. Slattery, debonair and handsome, as usual, with his silver hair, is most definitely not reprising his Roger Sterling role in the spots. He is often seen in fleeting images or in a mirrored reflection. Though it is his voiceover that is heard in the three commercials, only at the end of each spot does he turn to the camera, while driving, to deliver a short line.

"John has that charisma and credibility," Ms. Fontaine said. "He's the matter-of-fact guy. That kind of storyteller is someone we want. John has that great tone that says, 'I know you already know this, but let me tell you about this.' And we have a great story to tell."

More important, the spots show Mr. Slattery using the functions of the car, including technologies such as MyLincoln Touch driver connect, similar to Ford's SYNC system.

"This campaign shows that Lincoln offers a heightened sense of style, craftsmanship and technology, and we're showing that off in a new way for this brand," said Matt VanDyke, Ford director of U.S. marketing communications. "We're going to challenge people's perceptions of luxury and show that we deliver more technology and luxury for an unexpected amount of content for the price."

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