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Auto blogThu, 25 Jul 2013 14:00:00 EST
With recent news that the Secret Service has begun soliciting proposals for a new armored limousine, we've been wondering what the next presidential limo might look like. The current machine, nicknamed "The Beast", has a design based on a car that's no longer sold: the Cadillac DTS. If General Motors gets the job again, which wouldn't be a surprise considering the government still owns a chunk of the company, the next limo's shape would likely resemble the new XTS (below, left). But Cadillac hasn't always been the go-to car company for presidential whips.
Lincoln has actually provided far more presidential limousines throughout history than Cadillac. In fact, the first car modified for Commander-in-Chief-carrying duty was a 1939 Lincoln K-Series called "Sunshine Special" used by Franklin D. Roosevelt, and the last Lincoln used by a president was a 1989 Town Car ordered for George H.W. Bush. If President Obama wanted a Lincoln today, it would likely be an amalgam of the MKS sedan and MKT crossover, as illustrated above.
And what about Chrysler? The only record we could find of a President favoring the Pentastar is Nixon, who reportedly ordered two limos from the company during his administration in the '70s, and then another one, known today as the "K-Car limo," in the '80s after he left office. Obama, however, has a personal - if modest - connection to Chryslers, having owned a 300 himself before he took office. A 300-based Beast (above, right) would certainly earn the U.S. some style points.
Earlier this month in our first drive of the 2015 MKC, we told you that Lincoln finally had a new vehicle in its arsenal worth crowing about. So with the compact premium crossover now finding its way into dealers, why aren't you seeing its likeness plastered on billboards and barraging you on television? It's because Lincoln is "holding some powder."
Those are the words of Lincoln's global director, Matt VanDyke, who tells Autoblog that the company is holstering some of its marketing guns because it's keen to avoid repeating the ill-timed efforts that blighted its last rollout, the MKZ. That vehicle's launch early last year was beset by various delays related to manufacturing and quality. The cadence issue was so dire that by the time the model reached showrooms in volume, Lincoln had already blown most of its budget on things like Super Bowl ads that ran weeks or even months before customers could check one out in person. It was a particularly trying series of events for parent Ford because the MKZ and its oversized marketing spend were charged with relaunching the Lincoln brand to the public.
Keen to avoid repeating the same timing issue and mindful of consumers' habits at this time of year, Lincoln is taking a different strategy with the MKC. According to VanDyke, "What we don't want to do is try and fight the summertime - people using television being down, and other mass media when school's out. New television shows aren't on." Of course, that doesn't mean Lincoln is sitting idle. VanDyke says, "By no means are we quiet during the next 90 days. This year, we're going to really spend the next 60 to 90 days using digital and social media, in-theater advertising and the like, and once we have full availability at dealerships, we'll really ramp up the advertising later on in the summer." Part of that early media effort includes immersive digital marketing like Lincoln's clever Dream Rides web experience.
Those of you that caught yesterday's op-ed about Lincoln will have heard already, but Mark LaNeve has taken the helm at Team Detroit. Once the North American vice president of sales, service and marketing for General Motors, LaNeve will now head up the agency that handles all of Ford advertising. LaNeve will also run the account for Lincoln. While at GM from 2001 to 2009, the exec oversaw ad campaigns like Cadillac's Breakthrough and sales initiatives like "Employee Pricing for Everyone."
He left in 2009 to join Allstate as chief marketing officer, oversaw the creation of the Mayhem ad spots and was moved into the role of VP of agency operations overseeing Allstate's 10,000 agents. He resigned from the insurer in February 2012 for personal reasons and joined Team Detroit in August 2012 as chief operating officer, in charge of satellite offices in New York and internationally. He replaces ex-CEO Cameron McNaughton, and will continue to hold the title of COO.
Lincoln is trying to get its 2013 back to rights after putting big dollar commercials for the 2013 MKZ on television then having production glitches preventing cars from getting to dealerships. With rumors of a relaunch in the works, it's no surprise LaNeve has been given the reins - and from here it looks like the brand is desperate for the kind of magic he's proved he can marshal. Perhaps he can start by calling a mulligan on the renaming exercise that gave us the hoary "Lincoln Motor Company" and go back to oh, say, "Lincoln." Then he can ask the product folks to get to work on the MKC concept...