New Spot Features 66-Year-Old Movie Star Dennis Hopper

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DETROIT ( -- Even as marketing communications manager Ann Kalass declared this "a year of transition for Lincoln," industry analysts bemoan the
Adding celebrity allure to a new Lincoln TV spot is 66-year-old movie star Dennis Hopper.
brand's lack of a coherent new direction or identity.

The median age of buyers of the best-selling Lincoln model, the Town Car, is 70, according to the marketer, and therein lies the brand's challenge, auto industry experts say.

Ms. Kalass said the Lincoln product lineup will look different by year's end. But unlike General Motors Corp.'s Cadillac, Lincoln hasn't revealed a string of planned new vehicles that would demonstrate its future strategy.

Today, it kicks off a new Lincoln brand campaign on national broadcast networks with the new tagline "There are those who travel. And those who travel well."

Theme tested well
Ms. Kalass said the theme tested well with consumers and that the TV spots' humor made the brand more approachable.

But not everyone agrees. "It's time for

Median Age, Lincoln Buyers
Model Age
Town Car 70
Navigator 49
LS Sedan 53
Aviator (target age) 30-54
All Models 59
Source: Lincoln Mercury
Lincoln to be out of transition and onto a consistent strategy because they have such a big job of communicating who they are," said Susan Jacobs, president of consultancy Jacobs & Associates.

Ms. Jacobs predicted the new tag will be short-lived because it "doesn't exude any emotional message," which is needed in the luxury car market.

Touch of celebrity
The first spot released is a 60-second comercial from WPP Group's Y&R Advertising, Irvine, Calif., that includes a touch of celebrity with the appearance of 66-year-old movie star Dennis Hopper. In mid-May that spot gives way to three more that focus on the redone Navigator sport utility vehicle. The commercials will air until around Labor Day, when spots for the all-new Aviator SUV are due to break.

Lincoln, part of Ford Motor Co., said more than half the LS sedan and Navigator buyers are new to both Lincoln and Ford and that the vehicles have attracted younger buyers to Lincoln. Ms. Kalass said she expects similar trends with buyers of the upcoming Aviator.

The main push is on broadcast TV networks. Lincoln is more than doubling

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its spending there this year vs. 2001, Ms. Kalass said. Print spending will be "a lot lighter" than '01 because of that shift to TV. Print arrives in June. Lincoln also has an eight-page insert in eight Hearst Publication titles starting in July and continuing through December.

Cadillac is still main rival
Art Spinella, vice president of consultancy CNW/Marketing Research, said his surveys of consumers who plan to buy new vehicles revealed Lincoln's only major competitor is still Cadillac. But shoppers who end up buying Cadillacs are also considering Japanese and European luxury brands.

"Lincoln needs to muscle its way into that group," he said.

Earlier this month, Ford announced that Lincoln will be moved out of its Premier Automotive Group of luxury brands to North American operations. Ms. Jacobs predicted the move will translate to more time for the new executives in charge to develop Lincoln's strategy. Premier is now all European brands: Jaguar, Volvo, Land Rover and Aston Martin.

Of the $89.6 million Lincoln spent in measured media last year, $16.2 million was on broadcast TV networks and $21.8 million in magazines, according to Taylor Nelson Sofres' CMR.

The marketer said it sold 33,922 vehicles in the first quarter, down 20.5% from a year ago's 43,238 units.

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