DETROIT -- In the 2011 movie The Lincoln Lawyer, actor Matthew McConaughey portrayed a sleazy lawyer who worked out of the back seat of a Lincoln Town Car. Now, the Oscar-winning actor is collaborating with Ford's luxury brand to promote a very different kind of Lincoln: The 2015 MKC compact crossover.
Lincoln has signed a multiyear advertising endorsement contract with McConaughey that will begin in September with a series of spots promoting the 2015 MKC, Lincoln's new entrant in the fast-growing luxury compact crossover segment.
Though the MKC has been on sale since May, Lincoln is determined not to repeat the mistakes it made last year with the MKZ sedan when advertising kicked off before dealers had cars to sell. Lincoln ran a one-minute ad during the 2013 Super Bowl telecast, but the advertising boost was largely wasted because Lincoln had botched the manufacturing launch, causing lengthy delays.
This time around, Lincoln has been methodically building dealer stocks before kicking off the ad campaign.
McConaughey first will appear in TV and digital spots directed by Danish film director Nicolas Winding Refn that feature a storyline where McConaughey invites viewers to experience the MKC through "unscripted moments in the commercial."
In a video clip accompanying the announcement of the ad campaign, McConaughey says Lincoln approached him with the idea.
"When Lincoln came to me with the idea and the campaign, I liked what the message was about," he says. "'Authentic' was the word that kept coming out. I like the history, the fact that it's American made. The campaign's not screaming for attention. It's as much about the mood, the silence between the words."
The video features lingering shots of the landscape of McConaughey's native Texas. Lincoln ad agency Hudson Rouge conceived the campaign. Lincoln won't unveil the spots until next month.
Matt VanDyke, director of global Lincoln, said in a statement that: "Matthew is a natural fit with Lincoln and where we are going as a brand. With the MKC coming to market in a hot, competitive segment, now is the perfect opportunity to share with a wider audience what our brand offers. Matthew is the ideal personality to help us tell this story."
VanDyke said the MKC spots will be "only the beginning of what we trust will be a fantastic relationship."
McConaughey won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of an AIDS patient who procures unapproved HIV drugs and distributes them to fellow sufferers in the 2013 film Dallas Buyers Club.
The McConaughey campaign isn't the first time Lincoln has called on a celebrity since beginning its brand reinvention in 2012. Last year, Lincoln ran a minute-long Super Bowl ad featuring a script that was crowd-sourced through talk show host Jimmy Fallon via Twitter. The resulting spot, which got mixed reviews, was lost in the uproar over the MKZ's launch problems.
Last year, Lincoln also teamed up with singer-songwriter Beck to play on the idea of reinventing something classic, using the theme "Hello Again." Accompanied by 167 musicians, Beck created a new version of David Bowie's 1977 song "Sound and Vision." Lincoln said the "Hello Again" platform created a 300 percent increase in traffic to its website.
Lincoln has struggled to lure new, younger buyers in a luxury segment dominated by the German giants BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Through July, Lincoln ranked eighth in luxury-brand sales, with 52,385 units compared with 183,791 for BMW and 178,816 for Mercedes-Benz.