Ford’s Lincoln Sales Sputter Even After Super Bowl Commercials

Ford Motor Co.’s Lincoln brand, which aired two ads during the Super Bowl in February, posted a 29 percent U.S. sales slide for the month as dealers continued to run short of the MKZ sedan featured in the commercials.

Lincoln sold just 945 MKZs, down 62 percent from a year earlier, as the luxury brand yesterday reported that total monthly sales fell to 4,883. That was the second-fewest in almost 32 years, according to researcher Ward’s Auto. Lincoln’s lineup was outsold by all but four Ford-brand models.

The rollout of the revamped MKZ, which Ford expects to lead Lincoln’s revival, has been hamstrung by the Mexican-built cars requiring rigorous quality inspections at a Michigan plant, the company has said. The MKZ, with an expansive chrome grille inspired by an eagle’s wings, is the first of four new models Lincoln has coming over four years as Dearborn, Michigan-based Ford spends $1 billion to turn the brand around.

“These sales numbers are disturbing, especially since they’ve been relaunching the brand,” said Rebecca Lindland, an automotive consultant with Rebel Three Media & Consultants in Cos Cob, Connecticut. “How many people have been turned away because of no inventory of MKZs?”

Ford said dealers will be fully stocked with MKZ models by next month. Lincoln began selling the restyled MKZ in January, with a starting price of $35,925.

Advertising Push

Lincoln’s sales have fallen 25 percent this year after Ford initiated an advertising push in December to reintroduce the “Lincoln Motor Co.” with commercials featuring vintage models and an actor playing Abraham Lincoln.

The brand’s February performance followed a January total of 4,191 that was the lowest since July 1981, when Lincoln had sales of 3,506 models during a recession, according to Southfield, Michigan-based Ward’s Auto.

Lincoln’s decline last month also included a 13 percent drop to 1,883 for the MKX sport-utility vehicle, the brand’s top seller. Deliveries of the Lincoln Navigator large SUV tumbled 25 percent to 622.

“Is this really an inventory issue or is this a demand issue?” Lindland said. “They’re going to spin it as an inventory issue, but they can’t use that reason again. The March sales have to show numbers in the thousands from all this pent- up demand that they say will be unleashed.”

‘Blip Upward’

After Lincoln’s Super Bowl ads, online shopping activity for the brand increased, said Michelle Krebs, an analyst for Santa Monica, California-based auto researcher

“We actually saw a tiny blip upward in shopping consideration, which is an indication of marketing effectiveness,” Krebs said. “Then they didn’t deliver on the product.”

Read more at: Bloomberg