The McConaughey Factor: A Comeback for Lincoln?

2015 Lincoln MKC

2015 Lincoln MKC

The luxury small crossover segment is HOT right now. And it’s getting hotter by the minute with new entries like the Mercedes GLA and Audi Q3. So smartly, the water treading Lincoln has thrown it’s hat into the ring with the good looking 2015 MKC. A vehicle people are noticing because of some very quirky commercials in which Mathew McConaughey babbles nonsense about going back to where you started in order to move forward, all while he gives a thousand mile stare out the MKC’s windscreen.

If you think really hard and try to interpret what he’s saying, it could be lincoln stating that they used to be the American standard for the white collar man’s luxury sedan and the MKC marks the beginning of their return. Putting McConaughey in the commercial is a new attempt to pick up younger buyers, the last their last attempt being commercials that tried to sell Lincoln as being high tech. In reality, that was a bad route. The only truly high tech cars come from the likes of Porsche, Ferrari, McLaren, and Bugatti everything else is trickle down aside from an extra feature here or there; car tech just doesn’t vary much in ways that buyers understand. The new McConaughey commercials on the other hand are working.

On the heels of the new commercials, Lincoln happened to have a considerable sales boost, up 25% last month alone! They just had their best October since 2007. I’ve come to think that this had nothing to do with the commercial being good. I think that this was because the commercial stood out from the crowd.

The MKC commercial featured a celebrity who has been on a roll lately of playing one fabulous role after another for the past few years. It was quiet, he’s whispering; you have to lean in and pay attention. This stands in stark contrast to most commercials, today, which are loud and in your face. Just last night I saw a Target commercial with a jangely holiday tune featuring a dog and a cute little girl running around a Red and White consumer wonder land and I felt like I was tripping on acid in a Target store. No thanks! But the McConaughey commercial is just plain weird. And this is what has garnered the extra attention for Lincoln.

Previously, for most people Lincolcn wouldn’t even make what marketers call your consideration set. The set of brands that you consider when you shop for a certain item. You want a luxury car? You think Lexus, Mercedes, BMW, Audi. If their lucky, Infiniti, Acura, and Cadillac, and Lincoln get in there too. But when Lincoln made a weird commercial, comedians couldn’t resist and suddenly there was spoof after spoof (SNL seen below, Southpark, Conan O’Brien, Ellen) of the commercial and now Lincoln is on your brain. Maybe this was intentional, maybe it wasn’t, but if more people are thinking of Lincoln, then more people are thinking of buying Lincolns.

I was surprised to find that if you consider the MKC when you go shopping for a luxury crossover, it stacks up phenomenally well against the competition (at least on paper). The MKC boasts the same 20mpg city/29mpg highway as Audi’s similarly priced Q3 while offering slightly more leg, shoulder, and head room and significantly greater cargo capacity. It’s a similar case with Acura’s RDX, and Infiniti’s QX50 which is slightly larger, but uglier, more costly, and the least fuel efficient vehicle in the segment.

The only option that’s better than the MKC on paper is the Mercedes GLA. As the most recent addition to this segment, Mercedes was able to make the GLA the largest, sexiest, sportiest vehicle, and with slightly better fuel economy. The BMW X1 (see my review of the X1 here) also wins for fuel economy and price, while offering slightly less space. The build quality and driver experience is what would be the deciding factor for buyers, but now that the MKC is in the spotlight, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be in the top three for the segment.

Shouldn’t there should be a name for this kind of comeback? Alright, Alright, Alright! For Lincoln, I’m just going call it The McConaughey Factor.

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