Lincoln Steers the Wrong Way

So I may be a little biased. And I may not know what I’m talking about. But I do think I have some exposure when it comes to the question of Super Bowl advertising, thanks to working for VW marketing and witnessing some of the truly best (The Force) and not best (Fat Dog follow-up Star Wars bar mash thing) spots of all time. Based on my time in the belly of the whale, plus a lifetime spent watching the tripe on television, well, I have got to say that the Lincoln Twitter commercial is truly awful.

I’m sorry. I hate to criticize. I’ve seen how utterly exhausting it is to create a Super Bowl spot, and I know that only the best and brightest people work on them. But it’s true. Please, someone, call the network and replace it with 90 seconds of a Lincoln MKZ burning rubber on a track somewhere. They do that, right?

It just feels all wrong to me, as if a Ford executive pulled a Blue Oval spot and tossed Lincoln under the bus. If I were to guess, I’d say that the agency never planned on a Lincoln Super Bowl spot to begin with, or they discovered too late that Jimmy Fallon was too expensive/couldn’t do it and that one critical piece — humor — torpedoed the whole thing. Either way, starting #SteerTheScript just two months ago means that commercial production work — not to mention creative approvals, briefings, sourcing actors and scouting locations — had to be complete in less than two months, with Christmas smack dab in the middle and of course the actual script still in flux. Ack — that seems a bit tight for a Super Bowl timeline, and a bit suspect.

Perhaps the agency, struggling to pull some magic out of their, you know, came up with what on paper seemed like a GREAT idea: Use the creativity and energy of social media to fuel the story of the commercial. What better way to reawaken luxury car buyers to Lincoln, by putting together an integrated Social + Super Bowl marketing campaign? In June, that’s an idea that gets someone promoted. Lincoln’s #SteerTheScript digital campaign, where people share their road trip stories, is a brilliant way to get people engaged with the brand and steer it toward a younger audience. Sure, the whole road trip + social media + tell us a story thing has been done (See Mini, etc. etc.). But’s it’s still a great idea that makes for a great ongoing marketing campaign.

But for the Super Bowl?
That’s not the place to introduce digital chatter disguised as a spot. It’s the place where you cut through the noise. And let’s face it: there’s telling a story, as in “we had a great time on our summer road trip to Wally World” and National Lampoon’s Vacation. You rarely see “Vacation” on social media, no offense. But you do see a whole lotta Wally Worlds. Knit all those worlds together and it’s like a million-dollar mad lib — and that’s just flat wrong, weird and disconnected because there’s no “story” to the story, no tension, no flashpoint. The best Super Bowl commercials have that…that moment of drama and emotion. When the car starts, the little boy jumps and the Dad smiles. Or when Cindy drinks the Pepsi. Or when the girl tosses the hammer into the screen in “1984.” Or when the dog gets through the doggie door.

Okay, maybe not so much the dog one.
Point is, even Kia’s Babylandia has a moment. There is no such moment for you, Lincoln, and that’s a shame. Had you really wanted to sell some cars on Super Bowl Sunday, you would have put the $20 million it cost you in production and placement for the Twitter spot, added it to the development of a kick ass car, then, when it was ready, showed it off, in matte black, during the 2014 Super Bowl. No cute blue bird. No overly produced crap. Just a car kicking ass and getting every single adult male to stare at the screen and mutter, to themselves: “Shit. That’s a Lincoln?”

See for yourself. Click here for the Steer the Script website and advertisement.

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