Tom Corbett Communicates Across Cultures for Lincoln
For the first time ever, Lincoln Motor Company is making their vehicles available for purchase in China. China has long been sprinting their way to the head of the world market, so it stands to reason that they would be constantly edging their way to access some of the best products in the world. As these quintessentially American cars become available within China, it begs the question if this American heritage will find a comfortable place in a different culture. It is a question that was starkly asked of Tom Corbett who photographed their first campaign.
Tom is a fashion photographer, which is a surprising choice for a car campaign. But the art director made this choice for a very specific reason. “They wanted to have a unique look to the campaign. They wanted the images to look warm and approachable, and they wanted the car to be shot with a fashion eye,” explains Tom. “They wanted the car to look like the most beautiful person in the room.” It creates a separation from the industry standard car campaign. By focusing on the human element, the feelings that come with owning a Lincoln, instead of the technical aspects, the message cuts right to the heart of the effort.
Tom was lucky enough that he was able to bring some of his closest team members with him to China. “It allowed me to really hit the ground running,” Tom says about being surrounded by people he’s already comfortable working with. “Getting through the language barrier was one thing but it actually didn’t turn out to be too difficult.” It’s true that people he worked most closely with were old colleagues, but everyone was working together in a visual medium.
When they were on set, very few people spoke both Chinese and English, but once they got moving, it didn’t turn out to be too much of a problem. “Photography is a language we find we all have in common,” says Tom. “You communicate visually through that.” By focusing on the imagery, on the common visual language, they were able to ease the shoot that spanned from Shanghai to Beijing.
One thing that Tom was really struck with working in China is how everyone was able to come together, despite any language or cultural differences. “The crews out there are amazing, big crews, big sets. I was just so impressed by how hard people worked.” All that work came together into a warm and personal campaign, the result of a creative risk that turned out to be the perfect tone. It’s just the right way to introduce this classic American company to another superpower, who has opened their arms to this new chapter.