Lincoln plans two new McConaughey spots

Ian Thibodeau
The Detroit News

Lincoln Motor Co. is turning to its most recognizable spokesman to help sell the all-new 2018 Navigator.

The Dearborn-based automaker will debut on Thursday one of two new television commercials with Matthew McConaughey, who’s starred in several Lincoln commercials since 2014. It will debut first on Twitter and YouTube, and then air during the College Football Playoff on Jan. 1.

The TV spots with the actor have done well for the Ford Motor Co. luxury brand by generating buzz — even catching the attention of “Saturday Night Live,” which parodied the first ads three years ago.

This time, McConaughey is behind the wheel of the redesigned Navigator that’s received rave reviews from auto critics. The big SUV has been a staple for Lincoln since it was introduced in 1998, and the company is leaning into the full-size SUV to pave the way — along with the new Continental sedan — to stronger sales and a bigger presence in the U.S. and China amid yet another rebranding.

McConaughey doesn’t wax poetic about why he drives a Lincoln in the new 60-second spot, titled “Perfect Rhythm.” He doesn’t talk at all. This time he conducts a concert with wind, rattling railroad tracks, clanging train signals and his own drumming on the plush leather steering wheel of his baby-blue $95,000 Black Label Navigator.

Those behind the commercial said it complements the Navigator. The commercial is meant to be about energy and the capability of the spacious new SUV. It’s also meant to illustrate how all the components of the new vehicle harmonize.

“Perfect rhythm refers to the feeling you get in those situations when everything comes together,” said John Emmert, group marketing manager of The Lincoln Motor Company.

The ad is the first of two new McConaughey spots set to air in January. The second ad will come out later in the month. Lincoln has not released the details of that ad.

At the Los Angeles Auto Show last month, Lincoln said the launches kicked off a brand-wide shift and rebranding. All the vehicles now feature a honeycomb grille and similar design cues.

Lincoln also decided to drop the alphanumeric names in favor of those with a nautical theme. It renamed its mid-size MKX SUV the Nautilus.

Ford Motor Co.’s high-end brand has changed vehicle names, front-end designs and lineups multiple times since 2000. That’s made it hard for consumers to stay loyal to the brand, and muddied the automaker’s reputation and marketing. But under Kumar Galhotra, Lincoln group vice president and Ford’s chief marketing officer, Lincoln may have found a niche market.

Galhotra spent the last few years pushing Lincoln to grow sales in China, and sell customers an experience rather than just a vehicle. That led to a high-end Black Label trim available on most Lincoln models, which brings additional services as well as nicer materials to the owners. Galhotra has also launched several customer service pilots and programs, including a concierge, chauffeur service and a planned subscription service in select markets.

Twitter: @Ian_Thibodeau