McConaughey credited with creating momentum for Lincoln

Over the summer, as we recall, the Lincoln Motor Company announced it had hired Academy Award-winner Matthew McConaughey to act as a spokesperson in a series of commercials presenting both the brand in general and the all-new MKC crossover. Recently, as we have surely all seen, two commercials have been airing quite often on networks in the United States and Canada – where incidentally the French-language version of the commercials feature a rater uninspired voice-over.

Still, these commercials are really professional-looking and up to the standards of other major luxury manufacturers, with crisp photography that really showcases the lines of the new MKC. Matthew McConaughey also does a good job pushing the ad’s message thanks to his rather sombre and mysterious delivery and confident tone.

In one commercial, while driving at night down a city’s highways, he reflects about the possibility for someone (or, rather obviously a brand) to go forward while finding their inspiration in their past and heritage, emphasizing that it will work as long as you choose the right memories – this in turn could be tied in to the Motor Company’s previous commercials which made only selective comparisons to previous Lincolns: gone were the large ornate cars of the 1970’s, the commercial only featured the first three generation of Continentals before switching directly to a current-day MKZ. We also remember Lincoln’s “Phoenix” Superbowl commercial which featured an (always fondly remembered) 1995-1997 Town Car morphing into an MKZ.

In a second commercial, this time shot during the day, McConaughey makes another interesting point:

I’ve been driving a Lincoln since long before anybody paid me to drive one… Didn’t do it to make a statement. I just liked it.

Personally, I think that is smart on the part of the ad agency which most likely came up with that script, as the problem of a celebrity spokesperson is that people might actually assume they don’t use the product and just do the commercial for money. McConaughey’s “Lincoln Lawyer” connection notwithstanding, he admits flat-out that he has been driving Lincolns and even breaks the taboo of getting paid to talk about the one he is currently driving. Granted, this very script comes from an ad agency but I believe his popularity and reputation as a “no non-sense” kind of guy, as much as the confident delivery he gives of this very message, convey the idea that he is sincere about it.

To follow-up on what we talked about when he was initially cast as a spokesperson, these commercials realize their full potential when those featuring John Slattery could not: first and foremost the product is much more convincing (the all-new and acclaimed MKC versus the then-facelifted MKX) and the actor is given more space to inhabit the commercial. Here, McConaughey is true to himself and the perception viewers have of him, while Slattery’s witty and brash character of Roger Sterling -which was at the time subject of much buzz in itself- had been washed away to push a much sleeker message of “smart luxury”.

And it truly seems to be working. In my humble opinion, Lincoln’s high in sales over the summer season -which we discussed in the context of the feud between the MKC and Cadillac’s SRX- is due for the most part to a very good product that has enjoyed a good launch with no quality problems and a solid welcome within the automotive press. But still, a number of outlets credit this success on the buzz created by those commercials around the brand: and I guess it might have put Lincoln back on the map for a number of prospects and increased traffic in dealerships. In short, it may very well have created a successful synergy between good advertising and a good product.

Comparatively, in Canada at least, few other luxury manufacturers have been pushing strong television campaigns. The only other example I can think of is Buick’s latest commercials, which rely on a rather dangerous premise: the idea that today’s Buicks don’t look what people would expect from Buick. In one, a valet cannot find a Lacrosse in a parking lot, in another a person cannot find a friend waiting for her in an Encore, and in the last one a group of guests do not realize their friend showed up for her surprise party in a Verano. They do have a point that the brand’s line-up is much stronger than, say, the mid 2000’s, but we know how it worked for Oldsmobile not to be “your father’s Oldsmobile”.

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