Why the automakers secret weapon when selling cars is a convincing narrative.
Like any consumer group, the art of storytelling has become an important tool in how brands build relationships with and market their products to customers, especially when it comes to luxury automotive. Recently, Lincoln released the new MKZ and built a campaign that focused on affluent men over the age of 45. I spoke with David Rivers, Lincoln Marketing Communications Manager for the U.S. on the role of story, product specificity, and personalization that this consumer desires.
What role does storytelling play in marketing a luxury vehicle to affluent male consumers in the U.S. over the age of 45?
Storytelling is a key avenue for Lincoln to reach new audiences, and the brand is exploring new and inventive ways to do this. One recent example is this year we teamed up with recording artist Aloe Blacc to create an interactive music video for his new song ‘Love is the Answer.’ The collaboration with Blacc is an example of the way in which Lincoln offers new avenues for potential customers to experience the brand and its vehicles. By amplifying the brand’s digital content and providing an interactive experience, we allowed consumers to uncover their own version of the video.
How does music and film help you further build the Lincoln story and its narrative?
Music and film are important components of our story. The relationship with Blacc builds upon other Lincoln initiatives that involve the music and film industries. Lincoln’s “Hello, Again” campaign, an initiative that launched last year with a re-imagined 360-degree, interactive online concert experience featuring award-winning singer/songwriter Beck, introduces consumers to a luxury automotive experience different from the competition.
In addition to these striking musical performances, Lincoln has supported filmmakers through the Lincoln Reimagine Project and the Vanity Fair Independent Film. In this collaboration, three directors produced short films that reimagined three classic genres – thriller noir, heist and screwball comedy.
We have also signed on for the first time as a signature sponsor of the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival. As part of this new partnership, Lincoln has collaborated with the Festival on an all-new initiative called Tribeca Interactive & Interlude: A Music Film Challenge via Genero.tv’s global creative community. The Challenge invites storytellers and content creators to work with Interlude’s interactive video platform to create a music film for songs from major music artists Damon Albarn, Aloe Blacc, and Ellie Goulding, with the winning project for each screening at Tribeca Film Festival.
Specificity when it comes to product features is also important. For example, MKZ features different drive modes – sport, normal and comfort. How are interchange drive modes important to male customers? What do they offer?
The new MKZ offers Lincoln Drive Control, which is an automatic system that ties together suspension, steering and noise-control systems to provide enhanced ride, handling and sound. Lincoln is able to offer engaging driving dynamics through its continuously controlled damping (CCD) technology, which offers three modes: Sport, Normal and Comfort. Drivers can personalize their car to each mode through controls on the steering wheel. This technology is relevant to the active, multi-faceted consumer who is looking for a car that accommodates personal needs and desires.
In terms of product personalization, what features does the Black Label collection offer an affluent male customer?
The progressive male and female luxury client crave to know the story behind the products and services they engage – they want to feel that personal connection. That is at the heart of Black Label – providing special experiences for each client throughout the purchasing process. Each of the theme-based offerings from Black Label is designed with a specific customer profile in mind – luxury male customers will be offered a variety of choices as well as narratives that speak to them and their lifestyle.
Think of Black Label as limited-edition designer collections. We previewed three themes at the 2013 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance: Center Stage, Modern Heritage and Indulgence. Center Stage is inspired by fashion and theater, and is designed for the most expressive clients. Modern Heritage is a new interpretation of classic luxury. Indulgence is inspired by rich chocolates.
How does the marketing strategy of direct comparison prove an effective tool in marketing? For example, the automotive commercial I see on Hulu for Lincoln vs. Lexus?
The head to head Lincoln ad campaign that started October of 2013, focuses on MKZ’s key product attributes, as well as competitive advantages vs. Lexus and Cadillac. We highlight MKZ’s No. 1 ranking in J.D. Power APEAL as this year’s best compact premium vehicle. We also highlight our plan to double MKZ Hybrid production for 2014 from 20 percent of our product mix to 40 percent based on strong consumer demand. This Luxury Uncovered campaign helped our sales and our conquest rate vs. Lexus. The sales of MKZ from April through December 2013 allowed us to gain momentum in the market place, to further our reinvention and to be part of the luxury segment consideration.