Lincoln and the Commercials You Love to Hate
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You’ve seen them. You hate them. You’ve asked yourself, “What in the world is Matthew McConaughey thinking?!” Lincoln struck gold with its series of ads featuring the Oscar-award winning actor. But why? How did they turn profound nonsense into business-building results?
What’s He Talking About? We May Never Know!
Matthew McConaughey is arguably one of the greatest actors of our time: Dallas Buyers Club, The Lincoln Lawyer, Mud, True Detective … there’s no doubt that he takes scripts and breathes incredible life into his characters. And then 2014 happened.
If you wonder what in the world Matthew McConaughey is thinking, you probably also asked what Lincoln is thinking. He waxes poetic about nothing for a good minute with that strange finger-rolling action thrown in for good measure.
These ads are incredibly irritating, and poll after poll confirms that people can’t stand them. We have no idea what’s going on; we suspect Matthew McConaughey has no idea what’s going on. But here’s the thing: Lincoln knew exactly what they were doing. After hitting a 32-year low in sales, the car company recognized that they had to shake up their marketing approach.
Back in 2012, they were searching for a spokesperson, for a “hook” that would pull customers in. They found Matthew. He told them that he didn’t hawk products… but if he did, they’d be Lincolns. He is also integrally involved in the creative process.
This partnership resulted in a truly unique campaign. Cinematically beautiful and visually stunning, the ads break the car commercial mold. By showcasing the vehicles in a fresh way, they became a central character in the story. Lincoln didn’t slide into the trap of talking about the features and benefits of their beautiful cars. We’re not quite sure what Matthew is talking about, but it’s definitely not features and benefits!
And it worked. As much as they drive us crazy, we can’t get enough of these ads, and the results speak for themselves. After the first spot ran, Lincoln’s website traffic tripled. They realized a 10% increase in share of market for the fourth quarter and boosted sales by 16%.
If you believe that there’s no such thing as negative press, then Lincoln again cashed in on these ads via the endless parodies and spoofs. One of our favorites:
AI even got in on the act: using predictive text technology and a Matthew McConaughey impersonator, they created scripts that make just about as much sense as the originals (we’re still not sure why this particular AI program is so obsessed with ghosts though.
Lincoln went from being an “Oh, they’re still in business?” brand to one of the buzziest auto manufacturers in the country. Their resurgence is virtually unparalleled in this market. So yes, while the ads are as annoying as ever, the proof is in the proverbial pudding: they work.
They work because Lincoln was bold enough to do something different and unique. They took a chance, and that leap of absurdity resulted in dramatically increased sales, revenue, and social awareness of their brand.
That’s success. That’s a story told differently, and we love it. Be bold. Be creative. Take a strategic risk. Your audience will not be able to resist coming along for the ride.