It's no big secret that Ford's Lincoln division has become an also-ran in the luxury car ranks. Rather than letting the historic brand fade away into the sunset, as happened to its sister Mercury nameplate, Ford is giving it one last big development and marketing push to try to regain some of its lost glory, and sales volume.
For almost three decades Lincoln was sustained primarily by the success of its Town Car as the limo of choice for commercial operators. But that market disappeared when production of the big rear-wheel-drive sedan ceased (at St. Thomas, Ontario) in 2011.
The loss of that relatively easy sales volume, and money, forced the powers that be at Ford to candidly assess the brand's future and decide whether it was worth supporting.
The answer to that question is "yes" – for now.
The company is spending a bundle on a major new marketing campaign, which will include SuperBowl ads and heavy reliance on social media and celebrity connections, in an attempt to connect the historic brand with a new-age market demographic.
They're labeled progressive luxury consumers, according to the company and they are responsible for nearly 25% of all luxury vehicle sales in North America.
"The ‘Great Recession’ changed people and their view of luxury," said Jim Farley, Ford's executive vice-president of Global Marketing, Sales and Service and Lincoln. "Today, luxury consumers make decisions based on what appeals most to their passions and not what they believe will impress others."
That's the target the reinvented Lincoln brand is aiming at.
The first arrow in its quiver is the new MKZ, introduced this week by Ford CEO Alan Mulally at the Lincoln Center Plaza in New York City. The all-new MKZ will be the first of four new Lincoln vehicles to be introduced in the next four years.
Mulally also revealed the marketing label, The Lincoln Motor Company, which was the original company name when Ford bought it 90 years ago, in 1922.
"The new Lincoln brand will be defined by great new luxury vehicles, such as the new MKZ, that feature quality, unique style with substance and innovative technology," Mulally said. "These elements, coupled with a new level of warm, personal and surprising experiences, will enable Lincoln to appeal to today’s new luxury customer."
With its focus on attracting a new market of individual-minded luxury consumers, Lincoln Lincoln's plan is to deliver a range of vehicles that combine stunning, elegant design with technical innovation.