Why Was Lincoln Hiring Schlubs For Their Ads In 1969?

The other day Raphael showed me this old ad for a Lincoln Continental Mark III. It was right after he wrote the article about the lovely and occasionally naked rally driver, Inessa Tushkanova. He was still overcome by all the humid eroticism of all those pictures of her, and felt that a post about what must be history's Most Schlubbiest Car Model would be a good counterpoint.


He was right, so I stole the idea.

I mean, look at this guy. Really look at him. Another writer (good ol' Ben) thought he had a certain tough-old-guy vibe going on, like a mafia hit man, but I'm not so sure. Sure, those aviator frame glasses sort of help that, but this guy isn't really putting off that "dangerous" vibe to me, even if he is looking over his shoulder while leaning on several football fields' worth of gleaming black Lincoln.

I think it's maybe the rumpled LL Bean-type jacket. Or the unapologetic male pattern baldness, with the remaining horseshoe of hair warming the rear of the head. It's the stance, too — I think the photographer was hoping for devil-may-care lean, but ended up with I-may-have-sat-on-my-chili-dog slouch.

It's a really strange choice for Lincoln in 1969. Remember, this was one of America's finest "personal luxury" cars. The original mandate for the Mark III was to "put a Rolls Royce grille on a Thunderbird," after all. This thing had a 7.5 liter V8 and more fake wood than the entire Fake Redwood Forest of Fake Northern California. This was luxury, with a capital "X," and the usual model for this type of thing was a rugged, handsome, late '60- early '70s man who wore his chest hair like chain mail.


I did some research, and found a few pals for our schlub here, from the same series of Lincoln ads: somebody's outdoorsy dad with odd taste in off-road vehicles, and what looks like an ex-con turned preacher with what may be a broken nose.


Oh, also: who can help me identify this thing on the hood? I suspect it was a light sensor for some headlight auto-dimmer, but I haven't confirmed that exactly yet. I wouldn't mind seeing external sensor pods make a comeback, now that I see this.


Compare these everyday meatbags to the chiseled hunks of man-grantite (manranite?) most other car companies were using: all smoldering eyes or piloting planes, hell even the family man condemned to a wood-stickered Omni trapped under a canoe was a denim vision of '70s masculinity.

So why was Lincoln using such ordinary dirtbags in their ads? Were they losing customers when people started to compare the sleek, capable men in their ads to their own flabby, sallow, and worry-worn bodies? Was it an attempt to make the cars look even lovelier by comparison?


I'm not sure, but I kind of miss it. These schlubs had some real charm, hopelessly outclassed by the class-belching machines that were late '60s- early '70s Lincolns. Maybe some potbellied windbreaker-wearing genial everymen are just what the brand needs today to turn it around. If so, I'll go grab my windbreaker and wait for my call, thank you.

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