Lincoln tunes up brand strategy in $70 mil debut

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Lincoln, the luxury car of the World War II generation, wants to drive its brand toward Camry and Accord fanciers with an estimated $70 million marketing blitz for its new LS sedan.

The campaign, breaking this summer, marks the start of a new direction for the brand's advertising and marketing, said Marketing Communications Manager Ian Beavis.

"This will redefine the brand," he added.

In the U.S., Lincoln will put the bulk of its total $120 million marketing budget toward the launch. The effort will break simultaneously in Canada and Mexico, and will be rolled out later to Europe.

Mr. Beavis said the campaign is targeted to college-educated, married individuals with $100,000-plus incomes. Additionally, the target is 35 to 49 years of age, younger than Lincoln's typical target for models such as the Town Car, which is aimed at drivers in their late 50s.

LS prices start at $32,450 for a V6 manual transmission.

With the effort, Ford Motor Co.'s Lincoln is going after younger consumers who are now trading up from Toyotas to luxury vehicles, the fastest-growing segment in the business.

"This will be their first luxury car," Mr. Beavis said. "We want these people as Lincoln owners for life."


Mr. Beavis stressed Lincoln is not going after owners of "benchmark" luxury vehicles, such as BMWs or Mercedes, but is instead attempting to establish credentials among buyers of those marques.

The campaign, from Y&R Advertising, San Francisco, is tagged in print "What a luxury car should be." It's centered on a 60-second launch TV spot, "Surprising Journey," which begins with a closeup of the hammers inside a piano. The camera pulls back to show the piano is actually on a CD, which goes into a slot on the car's dashboard. The camera continues to pull back until the car goes by a train station, which turns out to be a model in a snowy chalet. It ends as the scene disappears into the Lincoln logo.

Scored with original music and directed by Gerard DeThame, the spot has minimal voice-over. "The new Lincoln LS. Where it's going may not be as surprising as where it comes from."

A second version starts with trees reflected on the surface of a water droplet and includes a visual of the car's stick shift.

Voice-over says, "Wood. Leather. Adrenaline."


Lincoln's new look in print will feature the car in a gold wash photographed at angles with copy designed to reflect the message. In one, copy reads, "As a kid you never acted out the sounds of an automatic transmission." The type is designed in the shape of the angular diagram on a stick-shift head.

Print buys include a custom-published city guide in 12 Conde Nast books. With the new effort, Lincoln returns to auto enthusiast magazines after a long absence.

TV spots will run in broadcast, cable and spot TV programming, including sporting events such as the Wimbledon tennis tournament and the Tour de France bicycle race.

The automaker estimates it will sell 40,000 new LS models this year.

Contributing: Jean Halliday of Automotive News.

Copyright May 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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