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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.