NEW YORK –CEO Alan Mulally unveils a blockbuster campaign to reinvent Lincoln here this week, launching the first of four new models that are designed to make the prestige marque more competitive with import premium vehicles.
’s only luxury brand suffered another month of stagnating sales in November, down 9.09% from year-ago to 5,732 units, according to WardsAuto data. Lincoln's best month ever was March 1990, when it delivered 24,546 vehicles.
The new MKZ midsize sedan shown on the plaza of Lincoln Center, New York's cultural nucleus, continues to share much of its architecture and powertrain with the Ford Fusion. However, it does have some exclusive engineering features, such as noise-canceling technology.
Lincoln's low sales volume does not make it economical to create a dedicated platform for the brand. But a Ford insider tells WardsAuto the auto maker could partner with a competitive OEM to create a distinctive architecture for Lincoln, including a rear-wheel-drive platform.
Both Mulally and Jim Farley, Ford global marketing chief, deny any negotiations are under way with a rival to produce such a product.
The new MKZ is available with either a conventional internal-combustion engine or a hybrid powertrain, and both models have the same base price.
Mulally says the MKZ marks a new beginning for the Lincoln marque, which was purchased by Edsel Ford 90 years ago from Henry Leland who founded the brand. At one time, Lincoln was the best-selling luxury brand in the U.S.
Mulally says Lincoln will get three more all-new models in the next four years. “Lincoln has a very bright future,” he claims. However, the Ford chief has de-emphasized luxury vehicles since he took over as CEO, spinning off the, Volvo, Jaguar and Land Rover brands that were acquired during the tenure of former Ford President Jacques Nasser.
Mulally now says not only is he intent on growing Lincoln sales in the U.S., but also in establishing the brand in China where luxury car sales are booming. Previously, he had insisted Lincoln should be exclusively an American brand and that there were no export plans for the luxury make.
Lincoln this week kicks off a new print-advertising campaign reintroducing the brand. The first ads, which contain no illustrations, focus on the brand’s core values and indicate where the brand is headed in the future. TV spots featuring the new MKZ emphasize the “grace and elegance” of the model.
The Lincoln Host and 24/7 Concierge Service will be made available on Lincoln.com. The latter provides a personal concierge to guide a customer through the entire shopping experience until the vehicle is purchased.
Also in the works is Lincoln date night, which will allow shoppers to spend a weekend with the MKZ and enjoy a dinner out with the luxury brand picking up the tab.
Lincoln also is developing its first Super Bowl commercial, which will feature TV personality Jimmy Fallon. Consumers will have an opportunity to write some of the ad's content via Twitter.