Did Lincoln's ads just do the unthinkable: help the stodgy luxury brand break through to a hipper audience?
Call it a happy accident, but Lincoln marketing officials say they're cheering about the response to a pair of ads for the MKC crossover featuring Matthew McConaughey. That response includes two spoofs, by Conan O'Brien and Ellen DeGeneres, that lit up the Internet and social networks last month.
When Jon Pearce got word of the DeGeneres satire early Sept. 22, he and 39 of his colleagues immediately gathered around a laptop to watch it and laughed. They viewed it again later that afternoon when it aired on DeGeneres' talk show.
Pearce, global CCO of Hudson Rouge, the Lincoln ad team that developed the McConaughey spots, said the parody was a welcome bonus. "We're flattered," he said. "Just to get out into the public mind with parodies says you've achieved a certain amount of notoriety."
The ads themselves evoke McConaughey's character on the HBO miniseries "True Detective," in which he plays Rust Cohle, a detective given to cryptic monologues. Lincoln lined up McConaughey -- a romantic-comedy regular and this year's Oscar winner for best actor -- in an effort to appeal to younger, more hip buyers, particularly women. It's part of a two-year partnership with the actor, who also starred in the 2011 thriller The Lincoln Lawyer.
The first ad with McConaughey behind the wheel of the MKC aired Sept. 6, during college football broadcasts, and the spoofs came soon after, spreading through social networks such as YouTube and Facebook. O'Brien's version, which aired Sept. 11, layered in bizarre dialogue from the HBO show.