Everyone is getting on the spoofing bandwagon when it comes to the Lincoln Matthew McConaughey ads. Conan O’Brien did one. “South Park” did one. Ellen DeGeneres did it. And now “Saturday Night Live” has jumped in, with this past weekend’s host, Jim Carrey, mocking McConaughey’s trippy stream-of-consciousness narrations of his wanderings in a Lincoln MKC SUV.
Ford has to be delighted that a somewhat risky advertising strategy for Lincoln — tossing McConaughey the keys and letting him mumble and meander — has paid off with a viral hit at the highest level.
Ford is spending billions to bring Lincoln back from near-death, not so much to revive it as a luxury brand in the U.S., but to have something to put up against Buick in China, a market that Ford is now trying to compete in more aggressively after watching General Motors and Volkswagen to establish strong presences there.
The “SNL” spoof was the least successful of the recent bunch — such is the challenge of being the latecomer to the spoofing game, trying to extract a last few laffs from something other comics have already milked. A mashup with an Allstate ad spoof featuring Kenan Thompson had Carrey actually hitting the cast-member — a jump-the-shark moment for the Lincoln spoof-fest.
(“Show the car” is a fundamental in auto advertising, while hitting someone with a car is a no-no when poking fun at a carmaker, not to mention being the comedic equivalent of slipping on a banana peel. As for Allstate…well, running down pedestrians isn’t exactly a something that the insurance industry supports.)
Given that McConaughey has a multi-year deal with Ford, it will probably be difficult to pick up any additional free exposure for the current campaign. Comedy has the shortest attention span in the entertainment universe. The carmaker now has a free hand to decide whether to continue with the approach, bringing up the prospect of overexposing McConaughey’s moody monologues.
But the ultimate test will be whether this all translates into sales. Lincoln has some nice cars, but compared with the luxury and near-luxury competition, its products aren’t as compelling. That could change over the next few years, as Ford rolls out re-engineered Lincolns in several segments. But for the moment, the buzz is mainly around the brand — a positive development that could fool Ford into thinking that Lincoln is doing better than it is. But for now, the fun continues.
Watch the entire “SNL” video below.
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