Matthew McConaughey is back in a new ad for the Lincoln MKZ hybrid sedan. Gone is the nighttime cityscape of Texas that he visited in a MKC SUV and the livestock that McConaughey may or may not have history with.
But the loopy monologue continues, as McConaughey — now heavily bearded, wearing a snug leather jacket, and pondering the sprawl of Los Angeles in hazy daylight, someplace in the hills east of the Griffith Observatory — prepares for a drive.
And some philosophy.
“It’s not about huggin’ trees…,” he argues.
“It’s not about being wasteful, either…,” he continues.
Then, behind the wheel: “You just gotta find that balance where takin’ care of yourself…takes care of more than…just yourself.”
Finally, with the MKZ navigating my favourite freeway interchange in all of L.A. — where the 105 connects to the 110 headed north toward downtown — McConaughey brings is all home:
“That’s the sweet spot.”
These ads have always been deeply weird, but as they have been picked up and parodied by the globe’s comedy elite — Ellen, Conan, Jim Carrey — they have created more buzz around the near-luxury Lincoln brand than the near-luxury Lincoln brand has ever enjoyed, even back when it was a true luxury brand.
It’s a bit jarring to see McConaughey not in a Lincoln SUV but behind the wheel of a big sedan (although in his “Lincoln Lawyer” role, he was down with a big Lincoln sedan, albeit an old, old big Lincoln sedan).
The loss of the Texas landscape, McConaughey’s spiritual stomping ground, is also peculiar, but then again California is hybrid country — even though it’s quite possible that literally no one in Los Angeles has thought about buying a Lincoln since the 1960s.
The jury’s also out on the beard.
But the bottom line is that McConaughey-Lincoln is easily the most productive and interesting brand-celebrity partnership in the history of the auto industry. At this point, it’s pop-culture performance art.
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