Lincoln Has New Celeb Endorser: Common

Rapper Replaces Magic Johnson as Brand Eyes Younger Consumers

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DETROIT ( -- Goodbye, Magic Johnson. Hello Common.
Ford says Grammy winner Common appeals to consumers in their late 20s to mid 30s.
Ford says Grammy winner Common appeals to consumers in their late 20s to mid 30s.

Lincoln has ended its three-year relationship with NBA-star-turned entrepreneur and teamed with hip-hop artist Common to reach African Americans. In a deal announced at the Los Angeles Auto Show, Ford Motor Co. said the celeb will mainly plug the Lincoln Navigator luxury SUV in ads across a variety of media, at events and online.

'A little cooler'
Marc Perry, multicultural marketing manager for Lincoln, told Advertising Age the Grammy winner appeals to consumers in their late 20s to mid 30s. The star will help meet the marketer's plan to make the Navigator and the Lincoln brand overall "hipper and a little cooler," he said. While Magic Johnson worked well for Lincoln, the marketer wanted to "keep things contemporary," he said.

Lincoln is hoping Common will help Navigator overtake General Motors Corp.'s Cadillac Escalade as the most popular luxury SUV among African Americans, Mr. Perry said.

Seven percent of all Navigator buyers from last October to March 2007 were African American, according to data from consultant Strategic Vision. The Escalade had twice as many African-American buyers than any contenders in the SUV segment, said Alexander Edwards, president of Strategic Vision's auto practice.

He noted the median age of Escalade buyers during that period was 51, just one year older than the average age across the entire luxury-SUV category and significantly younger than the median age of Navigator buyers, 57.

Hefty price tag
Lincoln's new deal with Common isn't likely to resonate with its current buyers, but could help build long-term aspiration for the brand, Mr. Edwards said. "How many consumers in their 20s can afford a Navigator?" The suggested retail price for the 2008 model SUV is $47,755.

Common's one-year deal with Lincoln was developed by UniWorld Group, New York, the brand's African-American agency of record. Other than to say Common gets a free, new Navigator, Mr. Perry declined to discuss financial details of the deal.

Common's first national general-market ads break Nov. 25 during "Sunday Night Football" on NBC, but more targeted TV will begin after the New Year on cable and national radio, Mr. Perry said. Magazine ads will break in February titles.

Common will appear next spring at test-drive events, dubbed Lincoln Lounge, and will be integrated online at Lincoln is wrapping up details on online and offline promotions, licensing of his songs for TV and web ads and how the automaker will integrate into his 2008 concert tour.
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