Ford launches TV, print ad blitz to revive Lincoln sales

DETROIT Mon Dec 3, 2012 7:55am EST

DETROIT Dec 3 (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co will try to generate interest in its upscale Lincoln vehicles with an ad campaign that draws on the brand's heritage and includes its first-ever Super Bowl spot.

The campaign, which launches Monday, features a 60-second TV commercial that opens with an image of an actor playing Abraham Lincoln, the U.S. president after whom the brand is named.

It also relaunches the brand under its original name, the Lincoln Motor Co.

The second-largest U.S. automaker is hoping to attract younger, more progressive buyers to its Lincoln vehicles. Lincoln developed a musty image since its sales peaked two decades ago, and by harkening back to the past, Ford aims to show a different side to it.

"This is how Lincoln started. This is how we will become great again," the automaker says in one print advertisement that will appear in major newspapers and online media Monday.

Ford is betting that fresh designs, glossier showrooms and a personalized approach to service will help drive sales. By the end of the month, Ford dealers will receive the new Lincoln MKZ sedan, one of several models to be introduced by 2015.

By 2014, Ford plans to introduce the brand in China to take advantage of a growing appetite for luxury cars in the world's largest auto market.

Lincoln was the top-selling luxury nameplate in the United States in the 1990s, but in 2011, sales were just 85,643 - less than half the vehicles sold by Lexus, Toyota Motor Co's upscale brand.

Ford wants to lower the average age of Lincoln buyers to 57 from 65 years old, and raise the target average annual income more than 50 percent to nearly $160,000.

Initially, Ford sought to set Lincoln apart from the Ford brand in its U.S. marketing strategy, not unlike the distinction between Volkswagen and its top-tier Audi brand. But that approach changed so that Lincoln could build on Ford's recent success.

"Traditionally, in North America, you try to hide your mainstream brand, but every wealthy person in America knows what happened to Ford," Ford's global head of marketing, Jim Farley, said in an interview in Beijing in August.

"That's not to say we're going to make Ford a huge part of the marketing, but we're also not going to hide it," said Farley, who took on responsibility for the Lincoln brand on Dec. 1.