McConaughey's Newest Lincoln Spot is Just as Quirky as the Others

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Lincoln's Matthew McConaughey ads have been mocked and spoofed by everyone from Conan O'Brien to the writers at "Saturday Night Live." But for the Ford-owned luxury brand, that's more than "Alright, Alright, Alright," as the actor might say.

"It's actually in the long run a good thing because it amplifies our message," says John Emmert, group marketing manager for the Lincoln Motor Co. "It's rare to see advertising become part of the cultural zeitgeist of the moment, and that's what I feel like we got out of some of the early work."

And as the campaign enters its fourth year, Lincoln is trying to keep people talking—maybe even comedians—with a fresh round of ads plugging the 2018 Lincoln Navigator. The first of two ads for the redesigned SUV includes the kind of WTF moment the campaign is known for. The ad, called "Perfect Rhythm," begins with McConaughey in a Navigator pulling up to train tracks. He stops, even though a train is not coming, and rhythmically taps his steering wheel, seemingly willing a train to come—and it does. The ad, by WPP's Hudson Rouge and directed by Wally Pfister, will debut on TV on Jan. 1 during the College Football Playoff.

"It's all about energy," Emmert says, explaining the ad. "Have you ever had one of those days where everything is going your way and everything just kind of falls into place. That's really the underlying theme of the ad." He adds: "There's a lot of shots that really play off the beauty of the Navigator."

But why does McConaughey stop before the railroad crossing arm comes down? "Matthew anticipating that the train is coming so he can relax and have a moment there with the rhythm of the passing train is really what we were going for," Emmert says.

Late-night comics might get the final word on that one. But Lincoln could get the last laugh if sales trends continue to improve. U.S. sales for all Lincoln models were up 1.6 percent in the first 11 months of the year to 100,540 vehicles, according to data compiled by Automotive News. Sales of Lincoln's crossover and SUV lineup, which includes Navigator, surged 12.4 percent in November for a monthly total of 6,047. But sluggish car sales for Lincoln led to a total monthly decline of 5.5 percent.

The new Navigator hit dealers in mid-November. The redesigned model boasts more horsepower than the outgoing model.

As for the marketing, Lincoln is banking on McConaughey's broad appeal across demographics, including genders, to bring attention to the Navigator as it competes in the increasingly competitive luxury SUV market.

When measured by vehicle registrations, males appear to dominate Navigator purchases. However, Lincoln's research has revealed that females have sway over the purchases and actually do most of the driving, Emmert says.

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