"No one is dreaming about owning a Lincoln right now, so we’re taking an approach with our new campaigns to be unpredictable."
— Timothy Elliott, Lincoln Motor Company spokesman
t’s a big year for Lincoln—he’s been slayed vampires, he was given an Oscar-worthy portrayal by Daniel Day Lewis, and now the automakers that took his name are trying to become relevant again. With all the noise Lincoln has made over the last few days (including changing their name to “Lincoln Motor Co.”), we contacted Timothy Elliott, a Lincoln spokesman, to find out what obstacles the automakers are facing as they try to become major players in the luxury auto market.
Web2Carz: You’re recent press releases mention Lincoln trying to “once again be a major competitor.” What do you think led Lincoln to not be a major competitor in the premium automotive marketplace?
Elliott: It used to be that we (Ford) had too many other brands. Now we have our attention focused only on the Ford blue oval and Lincoln. Just as you have seen us move our business model in a completely new direction with Ford and transform the company in recent years, we are now doing the same with Lincoln, in line with the most successful premium competitors around the world. There is a lot more work to do, but we are passionate about the future of Lincoln.
What has changed over the last five years to put Lincoln behind its competitors and what is Lincoln doing to try to not only catch up, but to pass its competitors?
What is different now is over the last couple of years we have put the building blocks in place for the reinvention of Lincoln. Our long term goal is not simply to compete. We’re absolutely committed to exceeding the expectations of luxury buyers. Proof of our commitment is the addition of dedicated, world-class leaders to deliver our plan, including Jim Farley (Ford Motor Co.'s executive vice president of global marketing) and Matt VanDyke (global head of marketing, sales and service). In October we opened an all-new design studio in Dearborn, Michigan and this month a new creative agency for Lincoln in New York. Lincoln now has a fully-dedicated team of designers, engineers, and marketers continuing to drive change and transform the brand. Our ambition is not to be number one. We will take advantage of our size to be a truly personal brand and we believe that this is how we can differentiate ourselves from the others. Not the largest, but a specialty brand, one that will again be defined by a personalized experience – particularly at the dealer level.
Using marketing with Jimmy Fallon and running Super Bowl ads shows Lincoln is trying to look younger, cooler. What else does Lincoln have to prove it’s not just a car for older folks?
This is the time for Lincoln to get noticed. No one is dreaming about owning a Lincoln right now, or waiting for the next Lincoln ad. So we’re taking an approach with our new campaigns to be surprising, a bit unpredictable. When you get to drive the all-new MKZ we think it will change your perceptions about Lincoln, with new drive technologies and a suspension that can be adapted to fit any driving style.
Technology is a tricky thing, not only for a unique brand like Lincoln, but the automotive industry overall. What is Lincoln doing, technology-wise, to make their technology as advanced as possible but not alienating some of their more loyal, older customers?
Our intent is to deliver a range of vehicles that combine stunning elegant design with technical innovation--creating an intuitive and pleasurable experience for everyone that enhances the occasion of driving.
Changing the brand name, spending on Super Bowl ads, redesigning the MKZ—these are all major announcements. How long has this been in the making and who finally gave it the green light?
The seeds of our announcement were planted several years ago when the company divested itself of other luxury brands and made the decision to continue to develop the Lincoln brand. Since then, a major rejuvenation of Ford occurred and now the time is right for Lincoln to stand on its own and move in the same direction.
Abraham Lincoln? Are you really using the former president in ads? It sounds very cool, but how will he sell cars?
Yes, Abraham Lincoln makes an appearance in one of the new “Introducing the Lincoln Motor Company” spots! He’s not the focus of the campaign, this is a subtle nod to our history, the creation of our name. It’s not widely known that Henry Leland, who formed the Lincoln Motor Company in 1917, named the new company after the sixteenth President, who was his personal hero. Then, in 1922, Edsel Ford signed the agreement purchasing the Lincoln Motor Company and revitalized the brand, transforming it into an American icon.