The Matthew McConaughey Lincoln ads have been mocked by Jim Carrey on Saturday Night Live and been criticized by some who ask, “Why is last year’s Oscar winner doing TV ads?”
Why all the hate? In my book, they are among the best and most effective brand ads of the year.
Carrey’s skit was amusing enough (although the old codger in me hasn’t found an SNL skit to laugh at in years) and who knows the reason why McConaughey did the ads. But the fact that the question is even asked supports his claim that “I drove a Lincoln before they paid me to drive one.”
McConaughey is riding a wave of cool right now, winning an Oscar and garnering acclaim and popularity with True Detective. (All-riight, All-riight, All-riight.) At this moment, he represents the epitome of adult, mature cool.
For any brand ad to work, it has to have a meaning that reflects who the viewer aspires to be. I’ve often said that the greatest brand ad in the last decade was the “I’m a Mac, I’m a PC” ads that presented a true choice. (It was key that PC was likable.)
For a car brand that, while existing in the luxury category, has often been seen as an old man’s car, using Matthew McConaughey as the brand face (the reflection of the brand) is a perfect realization of where Lincoln should position itself.
We live in an era in which commercials are judged by their entertainment appeal, a strategy that rarely does anything to move the needle. They come and go, and brands wonder why their bottom lines are still suffering. I laugh wholeheartedly at the Ickey Woods GEICO ads (“I’m gonna get some cold cuts!”), but it does nothing to convince you to switch car insurance to GEICO.
So, go ahead and mock if you want. But the campaign has probably done more for the Lincoln brand than anything it’s presented in many a year.