NAVIGATOR WANTS TO SCRAP LINCOLN'S STODGY IMAGE: FORD'S LUXURY DIVISION PLANS $45 MIL IN ADS FOR NEW SUV

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Lincoln will use its first sport utility vehicle, the Navigator, to try to change its stodgy image and energize the brand.

The first of two Navigator TV spots debuts June 23 during Wimbledon broadcasts as part of the estimated $45 million campaign from Ford Motor Co.'s Lincoln-Mercury Division. The TV buy gets heavier in July and will carry into September.

In the ads, Y&R Advertising, Detroit, removed the word car from Lincoln's longtime tag, "What a luxury car should be," and inserted a photo of the Navigator.

MORE THAN A SPORT-UTILITY

"To us, the Navigator is about more than a sport-utility, it's the beginning of a new Lincoln," said Michael Richards, Navigator brand manager. "We'll use the Navigator to shift the paradigm on how luxury consumers see the Lincoln brand."

Mr. Richards declined to discuss the specifics of ad spending. But he said Lincoln-Mercury already has 10,000 orders for the full-size SUV and could reach projected 30,000 first-year sales-without advertising.

Last week, Lincoln-Mercury hired Ian Beavis as marketing communications manager, responsible for developing and executing future ad strategies (see story on Page 15). The division spent $274 million in measured media last year, said Competitive Media Reporting.

The first spot parodies prior Lincoln ads, opening with an affluent-looking baby boomer couple asking a valet for "the black Lincoln." Instead of a parking lot, the young valet vaults across a mountainous crevice, climbs a rock wall and ducks a pursuing bear to reach the vehicle parked alone at the top of a hill.

The second spot features an unseen opera singer belting out "Home on the Range" in Italian.

BUILDING A PERSONALITY

"We wanted to build a personality for Navigator, try to expand our audience and change the way people think about the brand," said Mike Belitsos, exec VP-creative director at Y&R.

TV time makes up just about 30% of the media push, said Mark Turner, senior VP-management supervisor at Y&R.

Print accounts for roughly 30% including newspaper advertising; the rest of the budget is outdoor, direct mail and the Internet.

Wunderman Cato Johnson, Detroit, a sister Young & Rubicam unit, handles the Web activity and direct mail.

Navigator's competitors include the GMC Yukon from General Motors Corp., and a new TV spot for the Yukon breaks this week.

That vehicle also is getting a significant media-spending hike, said Kevin Stein, assistant brand manager.

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