Lincoln is inviting customers to drive events with black and white
postcards showing shapes from nature designed to arouse
The test drives, which started Oct. 1 and run through November
when the car arrives in showrooms, are part of Lincoln's plan to
reinvent itself. The struggling brand aims to offer customers the
kind of personalized luxury service they would expect in boutique
The events, called Exclusive Access Tours, are being conducted
in nine major luxury markets: New York, Los Angeles, Miami,
Chicago, Detroit, Washington, Atlanta, Houston and Dallas.
"The goal is to get people behind the wheel," said Jim Peters,
manager of Lincoln communications.
In addition, Lincoln is making preproduction MKZs available for
dealers in other cities to show off to customers and lure them into
ordering the car. So far, 62 events are scheduled.
Lincoln's marketing team knows that the brand has fallen off the
shopping lists of many customers and that extra measures are needed
to get those shoppers to reconsider.
Lincoln began accepting advance orders in late July and is
ramping up with the test drives. It will present customers who
order the car in advance with rewards the company has devised with
American Express Publishing.
"We'll contact them with the concierge service we've developed
Express once they take delivery," Mr. Peters said.
Lincoln might host the customers for a weekend at a boutique
hotel or present them with a gift, such as custom Scotch
Lincoln has a name for this new breed of customer: cultural
progressives. They're younger and more affluent than Lincoln's
current customers who, at average age about 65, are among the
oldest of any vehicle brand.
According to an internal Lincoln marketing document, these
customers see themselves standing apart from the mainstream. The
document provides examples of one such person's hypothetical
behavior in fanciful terms: "He famously orchestrated an officewide
funeral for his assistant's old cat, even though he's more of a dog
That customer also is described variously as "an agile
visionary" and a "magician" who's a "cultural change agent," who is
"admired by a broad circle" and is "often the subject of the
question, 'How does he do it?' "
Lincoln has employed several firms to help research this
customer, including R.L. Polk, Experian, Time Inc. and Hearst
Corp., Mr. Peters said.
Lincoln is inviting customers to these drive events using direct
mail pieces featuring arty-looking black and white postcards
showing shapes from nature designed to arouse curiosity. The cars
feature forms from nature that inspired Lincoln interior designer
Soo Kang and her team as they designed the MKZ. Among the images
are a manta ray and a calla lily.
Lincoln is building its marketing campaign around the theme
"Reimagined," according to the marketing document, sent to media
planners Aug. 28. National advertising will roll out in late
November with a musical event tied to the start of the Los Angeles
Auto Show, according to the plan.
Lincoln planners know how important it is to get the message
According to the marketing document: "We only get to introduce
our new brand to the Cultural Progressive once, so it is key that
we are doing it in the right way. It has to stand out, be
different, thought-provoking, smart, unexpected, unorthodox, clear
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CORRECTION: An earlier
version of this story and its subhead mischaracterized Lincoln's
partnership with American Express. Lincoln is teaming with American
Express Publishing Corp. in its rewards venture. Lincoln has no
relationship with the American Express Centurion