Lincoln has entered into a new multi-year sponsorship pact with the Dallas Cowboys, becoming the latest luxury automotive brand to team up with an NFL franchise.
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The Ford (F)-owned brand will serve as the official luxury vehicle of the Cowboys, according to an announcement Monday. Under the deal, The Lincoln Motor Company will put its name on the Founders Club, an exclusive dining area for fans who buy premium seating between the 40-yard lines.
Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.
The Founders Club attracts a high-end clientele, making it a strong fit for Lincoln. Seats cost about $150,000 per season for the license, plus the actual cost of the game tickets. Founders All Access ticketholders get perks including VIP parking, cushioned seats and free food and beverages in the Founders Club.
Lincoln’s plans are still in the works, but officials say Lincoln product specialists will be available in the Founders Club to speak with fans who want to learn about Lincoln vehicles. The company could also have vehicles on-site for test drives.
“The Founders Club opportunity resonates well for us. It provides that effortless experience. If you look at the Lincoln brand ethos, that’s what we provide with our 24/7 concierge service and our pick-up and delivery service,” Lincoln Group Marketing Manager John Emmert told FOXBusiness.com.
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Chad Estis, Executive Vice President of Business Operations for the Cowboys, also said the team’s focus on offering a “luxury, hassle-free experience” at AT&T Stadium is closely aligned with Lincoln’s objectives.
“When we started talking to Lincoln about their brand, it became apparent that there was an immediate connection to attach what they are looking to do with their brand with what we do with our brand and the Founders product,” Estis added. “In an area like the Founders Club, we would only associate with certain brands. We believe in what the Lincoln brand stands for, and in our facility, we want people to have that luxury experience.”
Lincoln has turned its prospects around. It’s one the fastest-growing brands in the U.S., boosting 2016 sales by 10.1% to 62,395 vehicles through July. Lincoln has also accelerated efforts to expand in China, where Lincoln plans to have about 60 dealers by the end of the year.
- The Star is a $1.5 billion facility anchored by the Ford Center, a 12,000-seat indoor stadium that recently hosted its first high-school football games.
- Ford obtained naming rights to The Star under a 10-year extension to its sponsorship agreement.
- The Star also has two full-length fields for team practices and offices that serve as the new home of the Cowboys’ business and football operations.
Growth has been fueled by SUVs such as the MKC, a compact crossover that entered the popular segment in 2014. The MKX, a midsize crossover that was redesigned last year, is now the best-selling Lincoln nameplate ahead of the MKZ sedan. Lincoln will look to keep up the momentum with the full-size Continental sedan that’s set to arrive in dealerships this fall. And the next-generation Lincoln Navigator is scheduled for a 2017 release.
The Continental will be a centerpiece of Lincoln’s partnership with the Cowboys during the 2016 season, according to Emmert.
The Lincoln deal follows a June announcement that Porsche would become the official luxury car of the New York Jets, in addition to a separate sponsorship with the New York Mets. Similar to the Lincoln-Cowboys partnership, Porsche will be the presenting sponsor of an all-inclusive club called the Jets Green Room.
Luxury car makers have been known to value sports that tend to attract high-end consumers—take the Lexus and United States Golf Association partnership, or Mercedes-Benz’s close ties to the U.S. Open tennis tournament. Lincoln and other premium brands are also seeing the benefits of jumping into the NFL, a pricey endeavor but one that can pay off in a big way.
NFL teams drew an average of 68,400 fans per game during the 2015 regular season, a slight drop from the prior year. Yet the Cowboys saw a 1.5% increase in attendance and once again led the league by a substantial margin. The Cowboys’ average attendance was 91,459 for their eight home games, well above capacity at AT&T Stadium. The New York Giants were second on the list at 79,001. The Cowboys have ranked first in attendance each season since AT&T Stadium opened in 2009.
“Sponsors definitely value partnerships with sports franchises. We like to think we’re salesmen and marketers for our partners,” Estis said, noting that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones revolutionized sponsorships in the NFL. “I think it comes down to people, and it starts with our ownership family and how the culture is focused on bringing these partnerships to life.”
The Cowboys sponsorship gives Lincoln the “opportunity to build awareness around all the great things happening at Lincoln with our new products,” Emmert said. “It allows us to be in front of a fan base that’s likely to be in the market for luxury vehicles.”