Lincoln Lobs TV Ads During Wimbeldon

Ford unit Lincoln is launching 30-second national TV ads this week touting the Navigator SUV and LS Sedan. The Irvine, Calif., member of Ford’s Premier Auto Group has signed tennis great John McEnroe for the new ads, which are set to debut July 5 on NBC during its Wimbledon coverage and run throughout the summer.

The two spots, via Young & Rubicam, Irvine, feature McEnroe as a tennis commentator on a fictive sports show, “Tennis the Way It Ought to Be.” One of the spots has McEnroe explaining, during a sweltering match, the importance of staying cool during breaks in play. During such a break, a Lincoln Navigator SUV rolls onto the court.

One of the players hops in and cools off, demonstrating in the process the vehicle’s AC, climate-controlled seats, sound system, and (not least) cup holder. The other spot, “Ballboy,” features the eponymous tennis slave driving onto the court in a Lincoln LS sedan to grab a dead ball. Both spots were shot at the U.S. Tennis Association Tennis Center in Flushing, New York. Lincoln would not disclose production or media expenses for the spots.

The ads also will appear on CBS and USA during the U.S. Open, of which Lincoln is an official sponsor, from August 27 through September 9. “Those are the only confirmed airings right now, though we’re looking at other possible placement,” said a Lincoln representative, who added that there would be no integrated print executions featuring McEnroe. Though she said Lincoln has made no formal announcement, she hinted that the car company might use McEnroe again. “They’ve found that Lincoln and McEnroe are a great fit.”

Navigator year-to-date sales of 13,732 units through May are down over 18%, or about 3,068 units from last year’s sales of 16,800 units for the same period, per Ward’s Automotive. Sales of the LS were also off 3,000 units versus the same period last year.