Home > Marketing, Online advertising > Lincoln self-parking feature: video makes it look like a “me-too”

Lincoln self-parking feature: video makes it look like a “me-too”

I saw a tweet from Scott Monty, who is in charge of social media at Ford, with a video of the Lincoln MKS parking itself. This is admittedly cool technology, and it’s nice to have in a luxury brand such as Lincoln. However, Lexus got there first. According to the Wall Street Journal, Lexus first demoed their self-parking feature in an LS460 in Dearborn, MI in September 2006. And there have been many ads on TV about the self-parking Lexus. (And the Volkswagen Tiguan, as well.)

The YouTube video about the Lincoln is definitely demo-quality — it’s obviously not meant to be a glossy champagne-glasses-against-a-black-background ad like the Lexus ad. But the narrator, who is one of Ford’s chief engineers, talks about the self-parking feature being “brand-new” technology — as if Lexus hadn’t gotten there first.

So this Lincoln video — which is meant, I think, to get people to think of Ford and Lincoln as technology innovators, and tout a competitive advantage — says to me two things:

1) Ford and Lincoln are two years behind Lexus in technology development.

2) Ford and Lincoln are so out of touch with the rest of the world that they believe this feature is innovative and the technology is “brand new.” Did they not see the Lexus ad on TV? Or the demo in Dearborn? Do they think their potential customers never saw the Lexus ad?

After Scott Monty sent me to a couple other sites, I realized that Ford thinks its system has competitive advantages over the Lexus system. The Ford system is based on ultrasonic technology (Ford says the Lexus is based on a camera system), and it works with their new fuel-saving power-steering system so it’s significantly lower in price–Monty says it’s far less than the $6,000+ Lexus option.

But I’m frustrated with this video–and the attitude in the video. The video does not acknowledge that there is other self-parking technologies out there, so if you know Lexus and VW already launched it, Lincoln seems disingenuous. It seems like a “me-too” technology, when really it should be marketed as, “Yeah, we did it; but we made sure to do it right.” After all, the Detroit Free Press says that the Lexus system “quickly became the butt of jokes because of its slow and inconsistent operation.” If that’s the case, looking like a me-too laughingstock technology doesn’t seem like it will sell many cars.(By the way, if anyone has any links confirming that the Lexus system is the butt of jokes, please post the URL in the comments. I wasn’t able to find anything during a short Google search.)

The bottom line? I did not get the message that the Lincoln self-parking technology *actually* works well when Lexus’ doesn’t, nor did I realize the technology was substantially different. Acknowledging Lexus got there first but that Lincoln’s system is superior would have gotten the message across better.

  1. December 31, 2008 at 11:06 am

    Ok, there’s a review of the flawed Lexus parking system in the New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/10/automobiles/autoreviews/10AUTO.html?scp=3&sq=Lexus%20LS%20460L%20+%20ulrich&st=cse

    Excerpt: “In practice, the system often took multiple tries over several minutes before docking successfully. It struggled to identify curbs and regularly asked me to realign the car before trying to park. The parking space has to be huge, at least five feet longer than the car, calling the entire exercise into question. And the system shuts down if you back up too fast.”

    I still think Lincoln needs to play up why their system is better than Lexus’ flawed system.

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