For many years The Ed Sullivan Show was sponsored by Ford Motor Company, which resulted in some great debuts for multiple vehicles. Sullivan was a household name thanks to his variety show that featured countless celebrities over the years. The show had historic rock ‘n’ roll performances by The Beatles, Elvis Presley, Rolling Stones and The Doors; sensational Motown acts by The Jackson 5, Supremes and Temptations; hilarious stand-up comedy acts by Richard Pryor, Rodney Dangerfield, George Carlin and Carol Burnett. Everyone tuned in weekly from 1948 until 1971 to see the legendary host present the latest groundbreaking acts.
So, it seemed like a natural fit for Sullivan to pitch Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury products during this partnership. In 1957, Sullivan along with Julia Meade introduced the new Lincoln. Meade had history working with Ford Motor Company as the star of many Lincoln live advertisements. Meade worked on The Ed Sullivan Show promoting a host of live advertisements, and it was a perfect match for the introduction of the 1957 Lincoln. Her beauty and on stage presence allowed her grab the attention of the audience as she described all of the features of the vehicle.
As the lights come up in this vintage video clip, the new Lincoln comes into focus and Meade begins to describe the benefits of this luxury vehicle. One of the major features of the 1957 Lincoln was the addition of quad headlights along with a host other creature comforts. With 6-way adjustable power seats, a door lock button, and power side vent windows, this car had many modern features that are common now, but were certain to attract the curiosity of viewers in 1957. Many of the iconic Lincoln features were mentioned during the then live advertisement, but the combination of Meade and Sullivan lead to the success of this pitch.
Although live commercials are a thing of the past, the relationship between auto manufacturers and celebrities remains strong. For example, look at the latest Lincoln commercials with Matthew McConaughey as the spokesman. What was once old is new once again, just as Ford brings back the Lincoln Continental to its luxury lineup of vehicles.
Product placement is old concept and Ford Motor Company has been successfully using the strategy for decades. Whether on a classic television show or in the relatively modern era; ever notice the sheer number of Ford vehicles in American Idol or Fringe? Pairing television networks and auto manufacturers has been successful for both entities in the past as well as now.
Eventually, even the McConaughey Lincoln mashup will appear dated just as the Sullivan-Meade-Lincoln trio. Once that happens it will be time to revisit the good old days of television and automotive advertising.