Over the course of the past two months Lincoln has launched a brand rebirth campaign led primarily by a slew of TV commercials and social media ads targeting luxury segment buyers. Lincoln plans to up the ante even more by advertising for the first time ever during the Super Bowl. The minute long ad is going to cost around $8 million and it’s estimated that it will be seen by over 100 million people.
So far the overall take away from the first series of ads delivered by Lincoln hints at the notion that they aren’t trying to take over the luxury marketplace by becoming a volume leader, but rather offer something unique and special to a select few who desire something different. The luxury segment is ultra-competitive and historically success for larger companies has been measured by a brand’s market share and conquest sales, but Lincoln’s new strategy seems to go against the grain as it aims to launch more of an intimate boutique luxury line of vehicles.
It’s going to be a long uphill battle for Lincoln because like other established boutique luxury brands they have to deliver vehicles that spark an emotional desire to own, but also dissolve the somewhat apathetic perceptions left by a couple decades of mediocre product.
Lincoln has never been a bad brand, but they haven’t been great in a long time either. Most recently they have been warmed over Ford models differentiated by slightly different exterior and interior designs along with higher price tags --- not the stuff that successful luxury brands are built upon.
With the heightened level of competition in the luxury segment reprocessing will simply not allow Lincoln to grow as they’d like. The line between mainstream and luxury brands is becoming blurred, even in Ford’s own house new vehicles like the Fusion are gorgeous and look much more expensive than they actually are which makes things even more difficult for Lincoln as they try to distinguish themselves as a premier company with new and enticing product.
Lincoln’s first real attempt of breaking away from rebadged Blue Oval models is the all-new 2013 MKZ mid-size sedan. I had the opportunity to drive the new MKZ along with a few of its competitors back in November at a press event hosted by Lincoln in San Diego, and I must say, I was very impressed with the new model in terms of design, drive, and price.
The 2013 MKZ and MKZ Hybrid both carry over a pricing structure where both the gasoline and hybrid versions start at the same $35,925. Both versions come packed with nice new standard technology features such as SYNC with MyLincoln Touch, 8” LCD touch-screen, premium sound, LED headlamps, and a choice of either the 2.0L EcoBoost engine or the 2.0L iVCT Atkinson I-4 found in the hybrid. There is also a 3.7L V6 equipped model, but it will cost you about $1,230 more than the base Ecoboost and hybrid, while also yielding poorer gas mileage.
The 2.0L EcoBoost AWD was my favorite of the bunch because it delivered plenty of power and still managed to tick off a city and highway rating of 22/31 MPG. For those living in cold climates, the AWD is a no brainer because it is a stand-alone option that only adds $1,230 to the base price of either the Ecoboost or V6. I found the 2.0L EcoBoost engine capable of delivering more than adequate passing power in both city and highway settings, making the need for the 3.7L V6 virtually nonexistent. The hybrid version was also surprisingly impressive in terms of power delivery and able to achieve a city and highway rating of 45/45 MPG.
When thinking of Lincoln in the past, the first thing that comes to mind is the notorious and now retired Town Car sedan. Up until recently, the Town Car really epitomized who Lincoln was and where they were going in their competitive space, which was essentially nowhere. Ford recently announced that they are going to inject $1 billion into Lincoln by way of new products and marketing over the course of the next few years. With so much on the line it will be interesting to follow new MKZ sales this year and to see if it can help finally spark the brand’s rebirth.
Social media and YouTube will provide some indication as to how well consumers will receive Lincoln’s new message and product after their 60 seconds in the spotlight on Sunday.