Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Athlete runs away with Lincoln spot

I'm a big believer in advertising that tells a great story. What I don't believe in, however, is trying to co-opt someone else's story to sell your product--especially when the co-opted story is much, much more compelling than your own.

This may sound obvious, but it's a mistake that well-compensated, experienced marketers make all the time. One example: this spot for Lincoln, featuring amazing amputee triathlete Sarah Reinertsen. Reinertsen has a great story to tell--and that's precisely the problem with the ad.

Lincoln seems to think that Reinertsen's story will create a halo effect that will somehow help them sell SUVs. But Reinertsen's story is exponentially more interesting than anything Lincoln has to say. Her story is what’s memorable in the spot, and Lincoln is totally outshined and forgotten. In fact, it will be a surprise if, after seeing the spot, viewers will have any recall whatsoever of the brand being advertised.

This seems to be another case of a U.S. automaker grappling for relevance in a market that offers an infinite number of better alternatives. Instead of putting together spots that do nothing to market their cars, they’d be better off investing in the development of products that tell a great story all on their own.

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