DEARBORN, MI – Lincoln launches a new advertising campaign designed to highlight the advantages the MKZ midsize sedan has over its luxury competition and generate nameplate awareness.

Dubbed “Luxury Uncovered,” the series of ads will air during sporting events, including college football and National Football League games, as well as on cable and major network channels. The campaign also will feature print ads and social media aspects, which will focus on generating interaction with consumers.

The spots feature young, affluent couples asking questions of a Lincoln MKZ and Lexus ES sedan. Questions range from what model has the more powerful engine to which charges a premium for a hybrid? The cars answer via signs placed above them, with the Lincoln giving positive replies and the Lexus dodging the questions.

“We’re taking people down into that place where you’re actually shopping for a vehicle and the questions you should be asking to find out something interesting,” says Jon Pearce, chief creative officer of Hudson Rouge, the agency that developed the spots for Lincoln.

David Rivers, Lincoln marketing-communications manager, says the ads are meant to convey several key messages, including raising the awareness of the MKZ nameplate.

Rather than promote the Lincoln brand overall, Rivers and his team decided to concentrate on individual nameplates.

According to Lincoln research, consumers who are aware of the individual nameplates have a 60% favorable opinion of the Lincoln brand, while those who are unaware of the different models only have a 26% favorable opinion rate.

“What it says is we have to be more nameplate focused than we might have been when we launched Lincoln Motor Co.,” Rivers says during a media backgrounder here. “That is a key piece of information for us.”

The MKZ is now the top recognizable nameplate among Lincoln brands, replacing the Navigator SUV, which was No.1 for years, as well as defunct models such as the Continental and Town Car.

Lincoln’s nameplate strategy, which has every model with the exclusion of the Navigator starting with MK, has caused some confusion among consumers. But Andrew Frick, Lincoln group marketing manager, says there are no plans to replace the nomenclature.

“I think it’s more about consistency of approach and really communicating it,” he says. “We did that with the MKZ and have seen a significant jump in recognition, and we expect to continue to see that.”

Some of the new spots feature the MKZ hybrid, which Rivers says allows Lincoln to attract the “progressive luxury” client it desires. On average, hybrid luxury consumers have higher incomes and are more interested in technology.

“It gives us this opportunity to separate ourselves from other tier-one luxury brands,” he says.

The ads also set the tone Lincoln wishes to use as it attempts to re-establish itself among leading U.S. luxury brands.

Rather than focus on engineering as BMW or Audi do, Lincoln wants to be a more “warm and human,” Rivers says.

“Opinion is really important to where we’re headed,” he says. “We need to be more single-minded focused in communications and leverage the opportunity we have with the hybrid and the tone we take.”

bpope@wardsauto.com