Ford Plans First Lincoln Super Bowl Ad to Revive Brand

Ford Motor Co. (F), seeking to revive sales of Lincoln vehicles, is fielding the brand’s first Super Bowl spot as well as a television commercial that portrays the U.S. president who gave the luxury line its name.

The 60-second TV ad, which debuts today, opens with an actor playing Abraham Lincoln emerging from mist. It also shows vintage models and images of Dean Martin and Clark Gable, who owned Lincoln cars, set against fenders of the new MKZ sedan.

The nod to the luxury line’s 90-year heritage is part of Ford’s $1 billion bet that it can stem a 63 percent slide in Lincoln sales since their peak in 1990. Ford Chief Executive Officer Alan Mulally plans to appear at Lincoln Center in New York today to introduce the “Lincoln Motor Company,” a marketing term meant to create distance between the brand’s vehicles and mainstream Ford models built in the same factories.

“It’s our largest campaign ever from the size, scale and reach of it,” Matt VanDyke, Lincoln’s director of marketing, sales and service, said in a briefing Nov. 30. “Every touch point is being reinvented. Everything we’re doing is different.”

Michelle Krebs, a Royal Oak, Michigan-based analyst with researcher, said “Ford has got to have reasonable expectations with Lincoln. The MKZ is a very fine car, but does it really compete with a BMW 3 Series? It’s not even on the same shopping list.”

Ford hopes to jump-start Lincoln’s revival with a 60-second ad that will debut on the Super Bowl and use social media, VanDyke said. The spot, which will be new, will build on the heritage and reinvention themes of this week’s spot, he said. The TV ad that starts today will run on prime-time shows such as “The Voice,” which airs on Comcast Corp.’s NBC network.

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