Lincoln Reaches for a Vision

DETROIT Lincoln believes that your idea of the American Dream is owning one of its vehicles, and the company uses a nationalistic mantra as a marketing theme to sell four 2007 models coming out later this year.

The vehicles include the rebadged Zephyr, now called the MKZ, a CUV labeled the MKX (a CUV is a cross-utility vehicle built on a car frame, unlike an SUV that is built on a truck frame) and two versions of its Navigator SUV.

The print campaign, via Young & Rubicam, Detroit, will begin this weekend with ads in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, with broadcast support later this fall leaning heavily on lifestyle media, including Web sites and telecasts playing to food, travel and personal finance. The effort is titled “American Dreams,” but Lincoln will also hold on to the present tagline, “Reach higher.”

Lincoln hopes that it can inject its brand with patronage from a younger buyer. The luxury arm of Ford has an average buyer age of 54, eight years higher than the industry average.

The print ads, one shot with blue hues in an airport terminal asserting that “Without a dream, there’s no departure,” advance Lincoln’s cultivation of the younger, hipper consumer in hopes of appealing to mid-range boomers who are looking at reward and comfort. Lincoln has conducted testing this year on a younger market in order to court that demographic.

The campaign also faces some obstacles. The Zephyr sedan has led the division’s sales increase this year—8.2 percent through May—and renaming a vehicle that has been a rare success for the brand will require some crafty marketing.

“There will be a seamless transition,” promised Gary Barham, marketing manager of Zephyr. “We will maintain a presence across all channels. The move to the MKZ will be a nonevent to our customers. We firmly believe that you do not launch an abandoned product.”

The MKX is Lincoln’s move to become competitive in the surging CUV market, which, according to some projections, will overtake SUV sales this year.