Marketing To Latinos: A Guide to the In-Culture Approach Part 2
Part 2 Case Studies | Part 1 Case Studies
  CASE STUDY: Lincoln
Ford Motor Company

During a California market field visit, Carl Kravetz, president of cruz/kravetz:IDEAS, was approached by a Corporate Vice President from the Ford Motor Company. "Why," he was asked, "is it that in Mexico our products are looked up to as aspirational, while here they are seen by Hispanics as merely affordable?" Kravetz answered, "Look at your advertising. In Mexico, you tell people you are elite and high quality. Here you sell Hispanics on affordable family transportation. Your problem is that people believe what you tell them…"

The Situation

The Ford Motor Company is a pioneer in Hispanic marketing, with well over 20 years aggressive spending in the category. However, as a result of the notion that Hispanics couldn't afford anything else, Ford had always concentrated its efforts on its most economical vehicles. This was consistent throughout its subsidiaries, including at Lincoln Mercury where Hispanic marketing programs concentrated on the Tracer and the Mystique.

In 1998, the Southern California Lincoln Mercury Dealers' Association (SCLMDA) hired its first-ever Hispanic agency, cruz/kravetz:IDEAS. 1999 showed double-digit growth in Mercury sales. Not surprisingly, an additional consequence of the increased dealer traffic was a spike in Lincoln sales as well.

With some nudging from the agency and a solid commitment from Lincoln Mercury's Regional Director, a Lincoln test was put into place for 2000. Lincoln Mercury's marketing department came up with $2 million and the SCLMDA $1 million.


In the Southern California Hispanic automotive category, $3,000,000 is not a lot of money. Several dealer associations spend three times as much, not including spill in from national advertising. This meant that a successful program would require focus and concentration - Lincoln could not be everywhere all the time.

The key decision was to focus on Latino households with an annual income of $75,000+. Because many affluent Hispanic households prefer English, the program was to be bilingual.

The advertising retained the global "American Luxury" positioning, but American Luxury was redefined. While to the Anglo market it meant "old money" - understated white-linen-on-the-beach type luxury, to Hispanics it was positioned as "new money" - glamorous, a bit show-off, emblematic of success, of having made it. Therefore, it was decided to focus on the younger, more forward looking models - Lincoln LS and Navigator, rather than the older, more traditional cars in the line.


Focus was also critical in planning media. For example, research showed that the Spanish-language television programming most likely to cross-over into bilingual or English-dominant households was the news. So, a decision was made to "own" the news, rather than spreading relatively meager dollars throughout the broadcast day. Ownership of the news also gave Lincoln a high-quality image. By concentrating television dollars in the early and late news, a 40-week schedule was achieved. Radio spots emphasized sales events and filled in the missing weeks.

cruz/kravetz:IDEAS also worked closely with the SCLMDA's general market agency, to ensure that the Spanish-language ads would run in the appropriate English-language programming. Some examples of this are the broadcasts of the Latin Grammys and the Alma Awards. The agencies also collaborated on bilingual inserts in The Los Angeles Times.


Event marketing was the major "medium" use to target bilingual and English-dominant Hispanics. Events were carefully selected to reflect the redefinition of "American Luxury" and to target affluent Latinos. It was equally important to decide which events not to sponsor. For example, it was decided not to get involved with Fiesta Broadway, which draws 600,000 to the streets of downtown Los Angeles, but rather to sponsor its VIP Gala at the Getty Center. This way 2,000 "influentials" would have a close-up, hands-on experience with the vehicles prominently on display.

The events program emphasized the interests of those consumers most likely to buy Lincoln vehicles, the affluent and successful. Events included entertainment awards ceremonies (like the Latin Entertainment Media Institute Gala, Latin Grammys, Imágen Awards and the Nosotros Golden Eagle Awards), the Los Angeles and San Diego Latino Film Festivals), business association galas, Latino golf tournaments (like the Eduardo Quezada Golf Tournament, the HOPE Golf Classic, the USC Mexican-American Alumni Golf Tournament and the LBA Golf Tournament), and the Hispanic Designers Gala. A special relationship with Paul Rodriguez included loaning him a vehicle "to be seen in," sponsorship of his Latino Comedy Nights at the Conga Room and special media appearances.


The results of the program were spectacular! As measured by Polk, Lincoln showed a 170% increase between 1998 and 2000. In that same time period, Lincoln sales grew from 29% to 45% of Lincoln Mercury's product mix. The Lincoln Navigator (at $50,000+, the company's most profitable product) became the largest selling model in the line to Southern California Hispanics.

Most importantly, the test proved to Ford Motor Company not only that "Affluent Latinos" exist, but that they will purchase luxury cars and SUVs if they are marketed to in a manner relevant to their life-styles and aspirations.





































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