Ford probably didn’t know what was in store for its struggling Lincoln brand when it hired Oscar-winning actor Matthew McConaughey to appear in a series of ads. The carmaker did know it had to fix Lincoln, which was slipping into irrelevance. And it knew that McConaughey had a link to the cars, through his role in 2011’s “Lincoln Lawyer.”
So maybe Ford took some chances, creating spots in which McConaughey just kind of meanderingly freestyles his way through various quasi-philosophical musings about Lincoln and the meaning of life (it’s all been compared to his “True Detective” character). The ads debuted a month ago and their generally trippy, stream-of-consciousness approach swiftly attracted parodies. Conan O’Brien did one:
Elle DeGeneres also did one, in which she suggested that McConaughey might have been assisted in his deep thoughts by an increasingly popular type of folk medicine:
Ford has to be sort of happy about all this, given that it’s committing billions to reviving Lincoln, after seriously flirting with killing the brand a few years back. And it isn’t completely in the difficult position of having to use an out-there media strategy to make up for a lack of decent vehicles to sell. I personally rather liked the last Lincoln I sampled.
The Lincoln MKC that McConaughey is driving around Texas in the ads is a new vehicle for the carmaker. It’s a relatively compact luxury SUV, intended in theory to compete against similar rides from BMW, Lexus, Mercedes, Acura, Infiniti, and Audi — but in truth, its actual competition is more like General Motor’s Buick and Chrysler’s Jeep.
That said, it’s a very nice package, built on the same platform as the Ford Escape, which is one of the most comfortable, best-riding small SUVs around — more of a shrunken full-size SUV than a compact SUV trying to punch above its weight. The 4-cylinder engine is turbocharged, so it’s peppy, but still fuel-efficient.
You can’t really say that all the laffs that comics have extracted from McConaughey’s ads have brought on an identity crisis for Lincoln — “What kind of luxury carbuyer wants to get into conversations with a bull?” one might ask — because Lincoln didn’t have that much of a contemporary identity before McConaughey came along. It had a legacy identity, as a lu
In fact, if the carmaker sticks with the creative approach, the temptation will be to send McConaughey tripping off into ever-more esoteric zones of monologue that’s both dazing and confusing for viewers.
He’s slated to leave the Solar System next month, so who knows?
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