Ford has sold off its other luxury brands so it can concentrate on Lincoln. On Monday, Mulally and Farley were promoting the MKZ with an event Monday at New York's Lincoln Center. Ford has hired former football star Emmitt Smith as Lincoln's new pitchman. It's also developing Lincoln's first Super Bowl ad, which will feature Tweets from actual consumers that have been put into script form by comedian Jimmy Fallon.
Farley said Lincoln is targeting customers who want a warmer, more personal experience in the showroom.
"After the great recession, luxury customers really changed. People are really buying luxury to treat themselves, not to impress others," Farley said.
He said Ford's research indicates that 25 percent of the luxury market is made up of quirkier, so-called progressive buyers who aren't attracted to current brands.
But even moderate success will take a long time and require a constant stream of compelling vehicles that are different from Fords, said Michelle Krebs, a senior analyst at Edmunds.com.
"Lincoln is just starting out on a long journey to gaining luxury car credibility and it is miles behind its competitors," she said. "Success will take more than a company name change and a Super Bowl ad."
The brand hopes to attract buyers by ramping up its customer service. It will offer a 24-hour live shopping concierge who can help buyers navigate their purchase as well as lavish gifts for customers and "date nights," where potential buyers can take someone to dinner in a new MKZ.
"We know that for Lincoln to be successful we have to do two things: Surprise people with the product and deliver competitive service in the dealership," Farley said.