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Old 12-14-2006, 04:59   #1 (permalink)
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US:Lincoln sponsors gospel TV to woo blacks

Lincoln sponsors gospel TV to woo blacks

By MARY CONNELLY | AUTOMOTIVE NEWS
AutoWeek

Lincoln is reaching out to black consumers through gospel music.

The luxury brand is sponsoring "Hometown Gospel," a video-on-demand program from cable TV's Gospel Music Channel. The series delves into gospel music history in six U.S. cities.

The one-season sponsorship includes 30-second commercials and product placement. Show host J. Moss drives Lincolns to program venues.

The gospel music sponsorship is effective in reaching black buyers, says Marc Perry, Lincoln's multicultural marketing manager.

"It opens an opportunity for us to be associated in a very positive light," Perry told Automotive News.

In 2005, black buyers accounted for 17.5 percent of Lincoln's U.S. sales, the company says. Lincoln wants to increase that percentage, although Perry would not specify a goal.

Lincoln will showcase three vehicles as part of the sponsorship: the 2007 Navigator SUV, MKX crossover and MKZ sedan. The Navigator is "historically popular" with black buyers, Perry says. The MKX and MKZ "establish the direction the brand is moving in," he says.

The vehicles offer "a chance to reach out and get consumers probably not even thinking of Lincoln," Perry says.

Memphis, Tenn.; Detroit; Chicago; Atlanta; Washington; and Nashville will be featured in "Hometown Gospel." The first broadcast is scheduled for February.

In 2006, Lincoln enhanced efforts to reach blacks in Atlanta, Perry says. A full-time employee scouts opportunities in that city. Activities have included dealership promotions, music events and an awards luncheon.

Next year, Lincoln will pursue similar efforts in Washington and Baltimore, Perry says. "It drives Lincoln closer to the target we are trying to reach," he says.

Perry would not disclose spending for the gospel music sponsorship. He describes the programming as "positive" and "family-safe."

The Gospel Music Channel calls itself a 24-hour cable network devoted to "all forms of gospel/Christian music." The network says its on-demand programming is available to 10 million households.

As part of the "Lincoln Presents" title sponsorship, Lincoln will have signs at concert events in each featured city and a presence at gospelmusicchannel.com. It will co-brand promotional material sent to churches, organizations and artists' fan groups.

The Chrysler brand also is using gospel music to woo black buyers. In October, the brand said it was sponsoring a gospel concert tour by singer Patti LaBelle. She is performing in U.S. megachurches, where Chrysler offers test drives.
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