Ford's Lincoln has undergone a makeover at the hands of a dedicated New York agency, and the results will be seen in a new creative campaign that includes a 60-second spot in next year's Super Bowl.
The agency, dubbed Hudson Rouge, is a partnership between the division and WPP, and is will be exclusively dedicated to Lincoln. The name is a nod to the way the new shop is structured -- a product of teams from both the Big Apple and Detroit, with creative coming from New York, and other functions, like media planning and buying, from Detroit.
The redesigned Lincoln 2013 MKZ is the product of a new design studio that was set up in Detroit, said Matthew Van Dyke, global director at Lincoln.
In its new home in New York's Gramercy Park neighborhood, Hudson Rouge unveiled the campaign, an integrated effort that combines five TV spots, newspaper ads, magazine print, new digital presences and a refurbished catalog. The effort is being led by the agency's president, Cameron McNaughton, with chief creative officer Jon Pearce, most recently of BBH New York. The agency has about 40 people on board. The brand also announced that it will have a presence on advertising's biggest stage: Super Bowl 2013, with a 60-second spot.
The theme of the campaign to relaunch Lincoln is called "Introducing the Lincoln Motor Company" -- an interesting choice for a 90-year-old company. Lincoln Motor Co. was the name it had when Ford Motor Co. purchased it in 1922. The rebranding was first reported in September by Automotive News and is targeted at consumers who can afford the car but aren't necessarily aware of its existence or features. It's primarily being targeted at tier-one luxury car owners, or owners of brands like Acura or Buick, that are looking to move up.
The problem the creatives started from was that lots of people now look at Lincoln and have no relationship with it, according to Connie Fontaine, manager, U.S. marketing communications. They see it as "My dad had one, Elvis drove one," she said, adding that the mission is to bring the brand into modern relevance.
The TV spot, directed by Stacy Wall at Imperial Woodpecker, touches on both the heritage and forward-looking approach of the revitalized Lincoln brand, with phrases like "We weren't meant to be all things to all people, but everything to some" intersecting shots of Abraham Lincoln with a futuristic look at how the cars are designed and assembled.
The print work has two aspects. Full-page advertisements appearing The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today on Monday are full-copy, old-school efforts, re-telling the story of Lincoln and combining it with rather complicated explanations of how the brand is coming back to life. The magazine print ads, which feature real people, focus on how Lincoln is intent on seeing people as individuals, not as statistics, with mosaic portraits of New York chefs, 42-year-old businessmen and redheads.
Those same people's stories will be told through shorter web-only film profiles, as will the stories of some of the people who briefly appear in the TV spots, like a jazz drummer who plays in the middle of a Lincoln factory. Mr. Pearce, the chief creative officer, said he took a cue from video games for these so-called "easter eggs."
But the digital reinvention is much more interesting. Lincoln.com will boast a completely new look, with two microsites that will focus on the "Hello Again" theme from the newspaper print ads. "Lincoln Now" will be a hub that pulls in interesting, blog-type pieces about lifestyle, culture and the arts. Parallax scrolling and a cleaner approach to the site feature specific aspects of the vehicle, such as its dashboard, or its seats. A refurbished brochure with full-color photographs that will be handed out at dealerships features reimagined versions of classic Lincoln ads. An accompanying app, "Experience Lincoln," lets you scan images to see what the ads looked like in the past.
Lincoln spent $175 million in 2011, down 23 percent from the previous year, according to the Advertising Age Data Center from 100 Leading Advertisers reports, based on measured media tabulated by Kantar Media.
As reported earlier, the brand has also contracted with Les Clefs d'Or, the international association of hotel concierges, to train dealerships on hospitality and customer service. Lincoln will be launched in China by Ford next year.
Contributing: Bradford Wernle, Automotive News.