It’s rapidly becoming a lost art. Very lost, at least within the world of marketing, which used to be such a magical, mystical, fun place to spend a while.
We’re talking, of course, about the rarified art of buzz. Getting people talking. Generating word of mouth, which most marketers — even the vast number who don’t really know what they’re talking about — will agree is so important to establishing a new product . Or reinventing an old one.
We didn’t know it at the time — which was only a week ago. But we were given a sneak peek at how it can be done right.
And make no mistake. This was a very big project in the buzz department that we were made privy to — nothing less than the reintroduction and resuscitation of a 95-year-old auto brand called Lincoln.
Lincoln is a unit of the reenergized Ford Motor Co., yet most people have probably forgotten Lincoln even existed. We would have, for sure, if we hadn’t on occasion seen one of those oh-so-clunky Lincoln Town Cars still used by limousine services to ferry around customers.
Lincoln never died, really. It just lost its image. It’s reason for being. Especially in the recent dark years when the American auto industry was going through so much turmoil.
But now that those dark days are mostly past, Ford decided the time was right to have a go at making Lincoln relevant again. The automaker began that process — quietly enough — by redesigning one of its top car models, the Lincoln MKZ.
The car, which will hit showrooms in early 2013 and sell for as much as $45,000, was given a sleek new exterior and interior — inspired, we’re told, by such improbable things as a manta ray and calla lilies.
Rebranding began with Lincoln’s American road tour
The MKZ’s redesign complete, Ford decided it was time to start the much bigger task of making Lincoln a car brand once again worth considering.
That process actually began a couple of months ago, when two teams of 10 to 12 people each took the Lincoln MKZ on a massive road tour around America. At most of the stops in cities along the way, the cars were positioned at key locations where there were plenty of the affluent car buyers for whom the Lincoln MKZ was re-envisioned.
But in Chicago, the MKZ tour took on a whole new dimension. It blossomed into the equivalent — really — of a theatrical production for the car crowd. A carefully-choreographed evening of cars, food and fun centered on the trendy Boka restaurant on Chicago’s North Side.
Chicago buzz began at 4 star Boka restaurant
There, a group of well-heeled VIPs compiled from lists supplied by Lincoln showrooms and from Boka customer files were treated to escorted test drives of the new Lincoln MKZ.
In a heated tent adjacent to the restaurant, each guest also was given a short survey — on an iPad of course — to ascertain a bit about his or her familiarity with the Lincoln brand, compared to direct rivals such as Lexus and Cadillac.
While the surveys were going on, flashbulbs were going off all over the place as photographers documented the evening and captured images of every guest.
Then, eyes still blinded from all the flashing lights, guests retired to the comfortable confines of Boka for a special meal prepared by highly-touted chef Giuseppe Tentori — a menu that, like every other aspect of this particular evening, was conceived of to reflect the arrival in Chicago of the Lincoln MKZ.
It was brought to our attention that skate became one of the entrees Tentori chose to offer because the fish reminded him of the manta ray — one of the sources of inspiration for the MKZ.
At the end of the beautifully-presented and flavorful meal served by a crack team of waiters, guests were handed a portrait of themselves — a little memento of the night Lincoln began its reinvention push in Chicago.
Serious, massive ad campaign starts
One week later, that night at Boka took on much greater significance as it became apparent the moment had come to really ratchet up the buzz about Lincoln. Just yesterday, in fact, Lincoln car executives began — on a much broader scale — the serious task of generating buzz about the newly reinvented car company via a massive advertising campaign featuring that very famous President Abraham Lincoln.
The Lincoln car company founder Henry Leland was apparently a huge fan of Lincoln, so the famous President was woven into this new marketing effort.
The introductory TV spot for the new Lincoln company is a beautifully-written ode to what Lincoln executives hope the company will become in the eyes of all who may be compelled to take another look at the nearly-forgotten Lincoln brand.
But those entrusted with the huge task of bringing Lincoln (the car brand) back to life clearly have not forgotten the one important thing they will need in getting that none-too-easy job done.
The Lincoln folks are looking to create buzz. And though it’s still early to know just how much of it they will generate, they’re going about it — in ways large and small — the right way.
So here’s to buzz, that nearly lost art. And here’s to Lincoln’s push to keep it alive.
See the new Lincoln commercial here.
Contact Lewis Lazare at LewisL3@aol.com