Over the summer, Lincoln management told the press that they would wait until the very beginning of the fall to launch a media blitz worthy of the new Lincoln MKC premium crossover and strong enough to build up on weeks of good news for the brand (from a successful Beijing Auto Show performance to good sales number). Indeed, they wanted to avoid the trouble they went through with the launch of the MKZ last year: a very strong media performance with two Superbowl ads (the popular “Phoenix” commercial and the quirky short shot by Will Wheaton) did not translate into sales as MKZ sedans were kept at the factory for additional quality checks and prospects showed up in droves only to find empty lots.
So, this time, Lincoln decided to get MKCs off the lots before launching their media offensive, and what an offensive! Academy Award-winning actor Matthew McConaughey was cast as the brand’s new spokesperson, on the trails of his acclaimed performances in Mud, Dallas Buyers Club, True Detective or even the movie adaptation of The Lincoln Lawyer. In that novel by Michael Connelly, McConaughey’s character conducts his business from the backseat of his chauffeured 1986 Lincoln Town Car. Funnily enough, the original book-cover for the novel features a 1998-2002 Town Car instead of an older one.
As part of this multi-year partnership, McConaughey will star in several commercials including the first dedicated commercial for the MKC premium utility crossover. When you think about it, this could prove to be a perfect match: much like the vehicle or Lincoln as a whole, McConaughey was initially not a traditional clean-cut superstar in the eyes of many, only to sweep numerous awards following unexpected and challenging roles. This could very well be the situation of the brand in 2015 with the new MKC, new MKX concept and big news coming on the sedan front as well.
As far as the message of the campaign is concerned, it will be “Live in Your Moment” and will mix McConaughey’s “story telling” abilities with “unscripted moments” featuring buyers and prospects of Lincoln. We’ll make sure to dedicate an article to the first commercial when it is released, as the director of the amazing movie “Drive” (starring Canadian superstar Ryan Gosling) was chosen to direct it. Until then, Lincoln has put online a teaser video which can be seen on their website (link below) or on their YouTube channel – you’ll be able to hear the actor’s first thoughts on his collaboration with Lincoln as well as his own, honest insights on his love of driving.
It is not the first time that Lincoln has hired a big-name actor as a spokesperson: back in 2011, before the relaunch of the Lincoln Motor Company, it selected actor and now director John Slattery as part of a campaign called “Smart Luxury” aimed at promoting the facelifted MKX midsize SUV and MKZ Hybrid luxury sedan. Slattery, of Mad Men fame, unfortunately appeared too smooth and deprived of the edge and wit that made his character of Roger Sterling so appealing – besides his drinking and suave womanizing. Knowing Matthew McConaughey’s reputation for authenticity on and off the stage, we can bet that the coming commercials should resonate well with the public.
Although it is not really common, car manufacturers sometimes rely on a personality’s charisma to carry a product line: Ford was associated for years with TV host Mike Rowe, and Buick used Tiger Wood’s aura for its product lines.. at least for as long as it lasted. It is indeed sometimes tricky for manufacturers to capitalize on one person to carry their brand image, taking the risk that this particular star will not resonate enough with their target audience, or because it leaves them at the mercy of their antics: see the case of Tiger Woods, or even Michael Phelps who had to record an apology to the Asian market in order to preserve his Mazda deal after being caught smoking marijuana.
In some markets, a foreign celebrity can add cachet to a brand: Harrison Ford was for a few model years the spokesperson of upscale Italian brand Lancia, and in Asia Bruce Willis has long been associated with Subaru. Finally, it can be a welcome gig for actors in trouble: recently, Nicolas Cage was recruited to star in a car commercial for Chinese manufacturer BAIC, who sells facelifted versions of SAAB’s former 9-3 and 9-5 sedans.
In Lincoln’s case, a highly acclaimed actor matched with very good products should definitely make for a good match!
- Lincoln Motor Company and Matthew McConaughey begin new creative journey, at Lincoln.com
- Media round-up: 2015 Lincoln MKC “first drives”, at TheMarkOnline