Lincoln: The Powerful Don’t Take Transit

Last year rapper Common signed with Lincoln as the "new face" of its Navigator SUV. The first TV spot of the campaign debuted in November on NBC’s Sunday night NFL broadcast, and continues in heavy rotation during the playoffs. In the ad, shot in Chicago, Common reflects on his roots in the Windy City, his voiceover set to a modern urban beat as he glides a shiny black Nav through unobstructed streets.

"The city means so much to me," he says. "Every time I come home it looks more beautiful than ever."

Just then, the Navigator passes under an elevated train track. Common points to the windshield.

"Back in the day that was my ride right there," he muses. "The El."

The El is in Common’s rear view mirror now, literally, as he cruises through his old neighborhood, rolling down the Navigator’s power windows to greet friends who aren’t similarly ensconced inside a $50,000 SUV. Presumably, some of those friends are among the hundreds of thousands of Chicagoans who still rely on the El, even as it flirts with collapse due to years of budgetary neglect.

After Common parks to pose with the Navigator in front of the Regal Theater, where he performed his first show (no circling the block, as there still isn’t another vehicle in sight), the commercial closes with the tagline, "True power is wielded quietly," and implores us to "Reach Higher."

‘Cause if you don’t, those truly powerful Navigator drivers might not see you

Video: kuteev/YouTube. Ad produced by Uniworld NY and Backyard.

  • Larry Littlefield

    The car ads have taken on an air of desperation lately. If you watch sports you see nothing but. None of them are about transportation. They are about power, success, wealth, sex.

    The people making the ads aren’t stupid, and they understand people are sheep. I’m afraid that no one is interested in the virtue of bikes, not in this country, not today.

    I suggest spoof ads and mockery.

    Featuring lots of overweight people in SUVs panting with sweat dripping off them as they walk from the parking spot to their front door. Along with airheads in SUVs driving over their kids, but not worrying about it because they can always buy another and the neighbors have one from a better country.

    The whole idea of a luxury truck is also ripe for mockery. It’s like designer jeans in the 1970s, for people who wanted to show they were “just folks” but also a little bit better than the other “just folks.”

    Fans of alternatives can’t spend billions on ads, but there is always YouTube.

    In any event, lots of those SUVs were bought with HELOCs, and the housing bubble bust is going to throw lots of them on the market used. And once the less well off have them, who will want them?

  • mork

    I like the way the youtube compression makes it seem like the skyline is evaporating and collapsing, evoking 9/11 and the beginning of the SUV-fueled oil war era.

  • Andy B from Jersey

    I’ve always wanted to know how they shoot these commercials on traffic free city streets, particularly the commercials that use Manhattan as the backdrop. CG? Bluescreen?? It’s all pure delusional fantasy.

  • jr

    i noticed that the subtitle mentions that “common” is an “artist/activist”… that’s about the funniest thing i’ve ever seen in a car commercial

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    True power is wielded quietly.

    But with true power comes true responsibility.

    Reach Higher.

    Now that’s just tasteless.

  • Mark

    Peak oil will take care of this problem. And sooner than you think.

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    Mark, do you think the truly powerful (TM) will let a thing like peak oil stand in the way of their elite status? They’ll be paying for the luxury express buses running in special lanes.

  • Mark

    Angus, no, of course not, the wealthy will run their ugly trophy cars as long as they can afford to — and they’ll be able to afford to longer than anyone else. But the majority of the drivers on the road are not wealthy, especially outside NYC. Call me a peak-oil optimist — I think stratospheric gas prices will cause middle- and low-income people to drive less. As time goes on, many of them will be looking for ways to give up their cars altogether.

  • mike

    Yes, true power is wielded quietly .. which is why I walk and bike.

  • they had trophy cars before they had SUV’s they were sedans like jaguars, Aston martians , Maserati’s, cadillacs, and aerodynamic sports cars. All of them had better visibility than the cheapest SUVS.
    i hope all these people whose family members are killed by these SUV’s with would make a product liability suit out or a class action suit against the manufacturer’s. many of the brand new parking lots for the new big box stores in the outer reaches have no sidewalks or walkways area to the store, this design was poor before the SUV, now with the majority of the vehicles having poor backing and forward visibility it is extremely dangerous.
    there is no public transportation in these areas, so it is car culture primo.

  • Edwards supporter

    I have always been disappointed that Edwards hasn’t railed against SUVs more, seeing that his son was killed in one that was “blown” off the road. I’ve never heard him blame anything other than that force of nature..

  • glennQ

    Maybe if celebrities set an example by carpooling and using mass-transit to their high-profile events…

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