Lincoln Looks to Drive Interest in Luxury Brand with Short Film Series

The Ford division aims to court younger buyers and Hollywood with its 'Hello, Again' film series produced with Rodrigo Garcia

Lincoln launches 'Hello, Again' short film

Lincoln has lined up filmmakers for a trio of short films to support the latest element of its “Reimagine Project” to raise awareness of the luxury brand’s new redesigned vehicles.

The luxury arm of the Ford Motor Co., paired up with Film Independent to fund the “Hello, Again” film series, with each of the three short films from Jacob Hatley, Dana Turken, Nick Citton and David Ariniello taking on classic Hollywood genres like screwball comedy, thriller-noir and the ’70s road heist.

Writer, director and producer Rodrigo Garcia mentored the filmmakers during the development and production process, with each short meant to tie in with historical aspects of the automotive industry while showing how Lincoln is going through a brand transformation with sleeker, more modern cars, including the 2013 MKZ midsize sedan.

The films will debut on Lincoln’s Hello-Again website and Lincoln.com on Sept. 11 and get the expected social media push, along with ads in Vanity Fair, which is also backing the project.

As part of the promo, Lincoln is enabling each filmmaker to enter the films into festivals or adapt them as full-length feature-length movies. Doing so would naturally broaden the potential audience of the short film projects while also putting Lincoln in front of more people.

The “Hello, Again” films are part of a $1.2 million fund Lincoln is offering up to support reimagined ideas and products “that align with our own and our target customer’s passion projects” like art, film, architecture, design and thought leadership, said Andrew Frick, Lincoln group marketing manager. In February, that involved Beck reimagining David Bowie’s song “Sound and Vision,” with 160 musicians. The first funded project began in February at TEDActive that backed champions of fresh perspectives on technology, sustainability and music.

Today, Lincoln is targeting customers that tend to be more culturally progressive and a luxury client that appreciates a brand for more than just a logo or what the brand says about them externally, according to Frick. “They like to shop for brands that are important to them and make a statement about themselves and not just externally,” he said. “They’re open minded and want to understand the heritage and history of a brand and what it stands for.”

Breaking it down further, Lincoln is aiming its new vehicles — with four set to roll into dealerships over the next four years — at 35-50 year olds as a way to age down the brand. Already it’s been able to skew younger by introducing a new hybrid model that’s helped break sales records for the company this summer.

“We’ve been able to attract a more younger, affluent buyer,” Frick said.

With its “Reimagine Project,” Lincoln wanted to “set ourselves apart by fostering innovation and design,” Frick said, and the “Hello, Again” films were “a way to give back to the community.”

Other carmakers have also turned to short films to rev up interest in their brands and models over the years, with the trend most notably kicking off with BMW’s short film series “The Hire,” which starred Clive Owen. But instead of ponying up major coin, Lincoln turned to up-and-coming filmmakers, instead, for its series.

“We could have gone with basic advertising and traditional ways to speak to consumers, but thought the ‘Reimagine Project’ was a better way to introduce Lincoln to luxury customers while connecting with Hollywood and filmmakers to create something that was relevant to the entertainment industry and not be a walking commercial,” Frick added. “It fits into our transformation of Lincoln, that’s been around for 90 years, as a product and service led transformation.”

Lincoln chose to distribute the films online because it’s found that luxury clients prefer to do their research online when buying a high-end car and tend to engage more with online content, as a result.

“As they try to discover things about the brands, they spend a lot of time trying to understand everything offered to them,” Frick said. “When we do have this kind of content (like short films), we have a high level of engagement.”

Lincoln is also supporting its “Hello, Again” campaign with test drives in 11 cities and an online concierge service.

So far it’s paying off: “Every time we have an event like a Beck or these reimagined events we’re seeing a significant lift in favorable opinion of the brand,” Frick said. “People’s impression of Lincoln is 75% higher than before they attended the event. When customers test drive Lincoln we see a 32 point increase in customers’ perception of Lincoln and our products and significant increase in how relevant it would be to them. That’s why getting Lincoln in front of people in unique ways is so important.”

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Lincoln is no stranger to the small screen.

On TV, its cars have been integrated into episodes of “Mad Men,” “Necessary Roughness” and “Decoded,” while Michael J. Fox also drove one in “The Good Wife,” and Jimmy Fallon promoted the brand through the “Steer the Script” project timed around the Super Bowl.

Lincoln will premiere its “Hello, Again” short films at the Charlie Chaplin Theater at Raleigh Studios in Hollywood on Sept. 10 at a screening before they stream online. There are profiles of the filmmakers at Hello-Again.com now.