For the past several years, Lincoln has centered its TV ads around the magnetically esoteric mannerisms of actor Matthew McConaughey. If the campaign’s goal has been to get people talking about Ford’s luxury brand, they’ve been a success, but it’s debatable whether they’ve effectively communicated the various attributes of the marque’s vehicles.
Lincoln is premiering a pair of new ads during, a new SUV ad campaign starring tennis megastar Serena Williams, and one channeling the brand’s namesake, Abraham Lincoln.
Compared to Mr. “Alright Alright Alright,” Serena Williams’ spot does a markedly better — and more straightforward — job of talking up what makes Lincoln’s largest vehicle so posh. The 60-second commercial, called “Sanctuary,” doesn’t involve flogging the 450-horsepower 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6. In fact, it doesn’t so much as involve turning a wheel at all. Instead, the commercial catches the famously active Williams in a rare moment of indulgence — parked, relaxing in a Navigator during a driving rainstorm.
Admittedly, “talking up” might be the wrong turn of phrase — the only person that says anything at all is legendary jazz singer (and Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award winner) Sarah Vaughan, when Williams turns up her Navigator Black Label’s Revel Ultima audio system. The ad does a nice job of subtly showing off the SUV’s 30-way Perfect Position seats, touchscreen head unit and rear seat infotainment.
In case you were wondering if Williams, who signed on as a Lincoln spokesperson in 2018, will eventually replace McConaughey, don’t bet on it. Ford spokesperson Angie Kozleski tells Roadshow, “Both Matthew and Serena are important brand ambassadors for Lincoln and play unique roles. Matthew has been a part of the launch of Lincoln’s newest vehicles for many years and most recently was in thead campaign that debuted during the college football playoffs in January.”
Previously a digital-only ad, the second 2019 Lincoln Navigator commercial, a 30-second spot entitled “Namesake,” finds Abraham Lincoln as the recipient of an unexpected birthday gift. The ad’s broadcast premiere is seemingly well-timed, as its is not far ahead of Lincoln’s birthday on Feb. 12, not to mention Presidents’ Day, Feb. 18.
Beyond the historical heartstring tug and reminding viewers where the Lincoln brand draws its name from, there’s not much to this simple ad other than some well-meaning patriotism — the Navigator itself is barely shown in the ad at all.
While Lincoln’s sales were down nearly 7 percent last year, the Navigator was the division’s lone bright spot, up a sparkling 69.5 percent year over year, selling nearly 18,000 units. In fact, it was the only Lincoln model to not lose ground versus the prior year.
2019 looks like it could be a better year for Honest Abe’s brand, however, with its very-promising-lookingthree-row crossover SUV poised to hit the market this summer.