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Lincoln Signs Matthew McConaughey to Help Win Younger Car Buyers

Automaker Trying to Appeal to More Progressive Shoppers

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Lincoln has signed a multiyear advertising endorsement contract with Oscar-winning actor Matthew McConaughey that will begin in September with a series of spots promoting the 2015 MKC compact luxury crossover, part of an effort to win younger, more progressive consumers.

Lincoln said Mr. McConaughey will first appear in TV and digital spots by Danish film director Nicolas Winding Refn that feature a storyline in which the actor invites viewers to experience the MKC through "unscripted moments in the commercial."

Mr. McConaughey, who starred in a 2011 movie called "The Lincoln Lawyer" that features him as a sleazy attorney who practices his profession out of the backseat of a Lincoln Town Car, says in a video clip that 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 in his Texas drawl. "'Authentic' was the word that kept coming out. I like the history, the fact that it's American made."

Mr. McConaughey became known for his role as Wooderson in the Richard Linklater high school movie "Dazed and Confused," but more recently won Best Actor at the Academy Awards for his portrayal of an HIV patient who procures and distributes unapproved treatments in the 2013 film "Dallas Buyers Club."

Lincoln is trying to reinvent itself by attracting culturally progressive buyers that might be younger than Lincoln owners past, and the MKC is Lincoln's entry in the rapidly growing compact luxury crossover segment. The MKC is a new nameplate for Lincoln, which was historically known for large luxury sedans and one of the oldest customer bases in the industry.

Though Lincoln said it won't introduce the spots until next month, the brand did drop some hints by releasing a video clip of Mr. McConaughey talking about his love of driving and his respect for Lincoln and its heritage.

"I like the history and that it's American-made," he says. "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 Mr. McConaughey's native Texas.

Matt VanDyke, director of global Lincoln, said in a statement that the actor would help the MKC stand out in a competitive segment.

The brand has been struggling to win customers in a luxury arena dominated by German giants Mercedes-Benz and BMW. Through the end of July, Lincoln ranked eighth among luxury brands in the U.S. with sales of 52,385 vehicles. BMW tops luxury brands so far with sales of 183,791, closely followed by Mercedes with 178,816.

The MKC, which went on sale in May, starts at $33,995, including shipping. Through July, Lincoln has sold 2,895 in the U.S.

~ Bradford Wernle is a reporter for Automotive News. ~

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