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January 17, 2013

On the Super Bowl Campaign Trail: In Its First-Ever Big-Game Advertising Venture, Automaker Lincoln Will Devote Much of Its High-Priced Spot to Broadcasting Real People's Tweets

On Super Bowl Sunday, social media will usurp traditional media for at least one precious minute when luxury auto brand Lincoln will give its nearly $8 million big-game ad the social media treatment — devoting much of its 60-second spot to broadcasting five dramatized tweets from real people. In the brand's first-ever Super Bowl spot, the five crowd-sourced tweets — garnered by social media-savvy comedian Jimmy Fallon — will showcase ultra-wacky road-trip experiences. For the Lincoln division of Ford Motor, it's a high-stakes effort to redo its image and appeal to a new generation of buyers, USA Today reports.

Lincoln is trying hard to reinvent itself and appeal to younger drivers with new products, and is using a Super Bowl social media platform to do it. "We have to pull out all the stops to get noticed and get Lincoln back on folks' radar," said Matt VanDyke, director of global Lincoln marketing, USA Today reports.

As a luxury brand, Lincoln is a shell of its former self. In 1999, it ranked as one of the best-selling luxury car brands in the U.S., but has fallen far over the past decade. The big question: Will a social media-inspired ad that airs on one of the world's most watched sporting events help change that?

Experts — who have not seen the spot, which was filmed last week — have mixed opinions. Weaving social media into the spot is smart, "but people have to want to watch it," said brand guru Steven Addis. The tweets "had better be pretty special," he added, reports USA Today writer Bruce Horovitz.

But "philosophically changing the paradigm to involve passionate customers in their marketing" may be a savvy move by Lincoln, said social media consultant Daina Middleton, the article reports.

The five tweets were selected from among some 6,117 solicited by Fallon, who asked folks to send him tweets about their craziest road trips. Fallon is under contract to the automaker, but does not appear in the ad. The tweets tweets are meshed into one story line in a 60-second spot. "Our approach was, if we're going to be social, we need creativity," said VanDyke, according to the article.

Other luxury brands, such as Burberry and Gucci, have successfully made similar transitions, says Addis, the brand guru. "At least it will be different from the endless parade of me-too car ads," he said, the USA Today article reports.

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