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Lincoln: Code Blue

Is there a doctor in the house? Enter Mark LaNeve.

by on Apr.11, 2013

Lincoln's marketing mishaps - and production delays -- have left the brand in even worse shape than skeptics had anticipated.

The reintroduction of the Lincoln Motor Company via the new MKZ model is now officially comatose. A code blue alert has brought in an auto marketing turnaround specialist, the 54-year-old Mark LeNeve, to assume command of Lincoln’s almost new “luxury-oriented boutique agency” and continue as COO of Team Detroit, the Ford brand’s ad agency.

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The former Academic All-American linebacker at the University of Virginia is faced with a helluva marketing mess. The factory quality issues contributing to this situation are not unique to the introduction of a new model but the marketing blunders, gaffes, mistakes and eff-ups are unprecedented.  Unless one has a memory long enough to reach back to the legendary Edsel debacle.

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Lincoln Flees Detroit

Ad team heading to the Big Apple.

by on Dec.16, 2011

The updated Lincoln MKT. An even more radical design concept will be revealed in Detroit next month.

So much for “Made in Detroit.”  Ford Motor Co. has announced it is shifting the advertising work for the Lincoln brand from Detroit to New York after the first of the year in a bid to rebuild the brand’s luxury image and cachet.

Lincoln and Team Detroit at WPP have announced the creation of a new “luxury-oriented boutique agency” dedicated to Lincoln’s brand reinvention and creative marketing communications strategy. The WPP-owned agency, based in New York City, will open its doors on Jan. 1 and be headed by luxury automotive veteran, Cameron McNaughton, who joins as president of the agency and reports to Satish Korde, CEO of Team Detroit.

The ad shift is paired with a significant new product strategy that will be previewed at the Detroit Auto Show next month, Lincoln sources confirm.

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“We’re reinventing the Lincoln product and ownership experience and working to make it a unique, compelling proposition for today’s luxury customer,” said Jim Farley, group vice president, Global Marketing, Ford Motor Company. “Assembling a talented, Lincoln-only creative agency team, in partnership with Team Detroit and WPP, to build this brand is an important next step in our plan.” Farley said.

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Marty’s Marketing Minutia

Lincoln makes time for Times, Toledo goes to the Dogs, and a PSA worth watching.

by on Mar.25, 2011

A Safe Driving Adult PSA Worth Watching

Mercedes-Benz this week announced a teen age driving school, Toyota has had one for several years, BMW offers a teen driving school in South Carolina, Bridgestone has a special program too, but what about those beyond learner permits? Like adult drivers driving adult-ly?

All of us on occasion do run through an orange light, make a right hand turn even through there’s on-coming traffic, push it to 80 or 85 on certain freeways, detest those damn speed cameras that should have remained on the Autobahn, and even pass in the wrong lane. Why? Because we’re in a hurry, right? Common sense tells us the only correct, as in legal, time to drive at high speed is on a private track or at one of those expensive adult driving schools.

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Obviously all the yellow signs, radar guns, speed zone and traffic lights in the world don’t make for safer, slower driving. Experts say most auto accidents – not counting DUI – are caused by excessive and unnecessary speed. Increased auto safety could come from the simple act of slowing down. Just think about it.  While in Australia earlier this year I saw this auto safety by slowing down public service commercial on the local television and now it’s come to the US. Click Here to see one of the best public service announcements because it resonates with reasonable people.

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Marty’s Marketing Minutia

Is life imitating art in Lincoln's new commercials?

by on Oct.11, 2010

Isn't that...? Mad Men's John Slattery stars in a new Lincoln ad series.

Once upon a time the Lincoln division of Ford Motor Company was viewed as the American automotive pinnacle of luxurious sophistication, success and status. These were the halcyon days of great looking, really big vehicles like the Mark series. Then the brand became afflicted with inertia, malaise and lethargy resulting in so-so designs, uh-oh quality and “duh” advertising.  Consumers stayed away in droves.

Arguably, among consumers, the best known Lincoln model is the Town Car. This sedan, which has its origins in the automotive equivalent of the Paleozoic era, has retained some cache and panache as the ubiquitous “Black Car” service vehicle in NY, Chicago and LA. But that too is on the endangered species list.

But suddenly Lincoln is making headline news … as a reorganization, restructuring and revitalization program was announced that has a significant impact on the brand’s future. Leading the way to a hoped-for resurgence are two new vehicles, the MKX and MKZ.  Both nice looking models are loaded with sophisticated, state-of-the-art, innovative, incredible technology to inform, entertain and protect the driver and passengers while seated in a luxury setting.  This is a good creative platform. But to promote these new models to the American consumer they’ve borrowed equity to present the cars which I feel is feature not benefit-driven.

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They’ve cast a journeyman actor, John Slattery of the AMC network’s hit series, Mad Men – which is based on an advertising agency in the ‘60s — to be the pitchman in three new television commercials.  The hope is that people watching television will see Slattery and instantly know who he is, the character he portrays on what show, and that this will result in an “OMG isn’t that…?” moment for Lincoln. That’s the borrowed equity. But it’s also a big stretch that could turn into just more “duh” advertising.

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Lincoln Ready For A Brand Re-Make

New ad campaign only setting stage for major shift in direction.

by on Oct.04, 2010

The Lincoln MKT, one of the brand's newest offerings, will soon be followed by seven other all-new or significantly redesigned offerings.

This past weekend saw the launch of a new ad campaign and an all-new tagline for Ford’s long-struggling Lincoln brand.  “Smarter Than Luxury,” as it’s been dubbed, will emphasize the Detroit marque’s technology – with features like the voice-activated Sync system.

The goal is to “challenge people’s perception,” by emphasizing technology, style and craftsmanship,” explains Matt VanDyke, Lincoln’s marketing communications director.

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But senior company officials admit that no advertising campaign alone will be enough to right what’s been wrong with Lincoln, a brand that must stand on its own, now more than ever.  And that means a dramatic shift in product direction that will begin to surface over the next several years, company insiders hint, as well as a restructuring of the Lincoln distribution network.

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