Alas, the car brand will soon be wishing for the days when the derision was contained to industry insiders lamenting its decline. Or worse, it will yearn for the days people poked fun of its lethargic "Lincoln Motor Company" re-branding.
Come Sunday, Lincoln is poised for a much more high-profile flop. There's no couching the painful and obvious: Lincoln's Super Bowl commercial is terrible.
Released Friday morning, the 1-minute, 30-second spot is an immediate contender for the titles of the worst Super Bowl commercial of all time and worst car commercial of all time, an unlikely and breathtaking confluence of failures.
Given the setup -- involving Jimmy Fallon in an advertising campaign of a brand struggling for relevance -- it's stunning that this is what they delivered.
On a day that advertisers strive for greatness, Lincoln instead may have very well killed the brand by extinguishing what goodwill there is for the brand by laying such an egg on the biggest stage of all. On the surface, it's hard to conceive of one ruinous commercial closing any doors. But considering Lincoln is already flirting with obsolescence, February 3, 2013, Super Bowl Sunday, may go down as the official date of death.
In its short, tortuous duration, the ad features a man sitting in a leather chair in the middle of a field explaining the crowd-sourced nature of the spot, a 30-something woman driving an MKZ, a German hitchhiker, an alpaca farm, turtles, bikers, alien actors and a wedding.
It says little about the sedan featured in the ad. To be fair, it doesn't necessarily need that information. These days, a car commercial is about more than just the car. They're about lifestyle and beliefs, style and attitude, showing some soul.
But Lincoln's commercial doesn't do those things either. The only statement it ultimately conveys is one that says Lincoln has no idea what stirs its soul these days, so it outsourced its soul-making to a bunch of people on Twitter and charted the misadventure using the #SteerTheScript hashtag.
Incredible to think Lincoln hired Fallon to be the front man of the project, and didn't use him in a visible way. Lincoln seems to have done the incredible. It's reduced Jimmy Fallon to some sort of behind the scenes marketing manager. Is Fallon suing to get his name off this thing?
If there's some latitude to be given here, it's that Lincoln executives started with a novel idea – crowd-source the commercial. They just didn't execute. Instead, they wound up with a mishmash of kitsch. Like an insecure teenager desperate to land a date, Lincoln will try to be anything people want it to be if if they'll please, please, please like them back.
Even let them commandeer a high-stakes advertising campaign.
There's no joy in watching Lincoln stumble. It's cars and SUVs these days are competitive, if not exceptional. But this, the latest in a series of failures, leads to the inevitable conclusion that if this is the best Lincoln can do with its future on the line, then perhaps it's time to bring a dignified end to a once-proud brand.
The Washington Post reports CBS is charging $3.8 million to $4 million for 30 seconds of advertising air time Sunday, meaning Lincoln paid a ludicrous amount of money for the right to die on a national stage. (Or perhaps more accurately, Ford footed the bill).
There's a scene about a third of the way through the commercial, right after the woman and hitchhiker meet and discover a mutual affinity for sweaters, that an apparent suspender-wearing alpaca farmer, seen through the viewfinder of a camera, yells, "It's the Alpacalypse!"
No. For Lincoln, it's merely the apocalypse.