• Image Credit: Chris Paukert
  • Image Credit: Chris Paukert
  • Image Credit: Chris Paukert
  • Image Credit: Chris Paukert
  • Image Credit: Chris Paukert
  • Image Credit: Chris Paukert
  • Image Credit: Chris Paukert
  • Image Credit: Chris Paukert
  • Image Credit: Chris Paukert
  • Image Credit: Chris Paukert
  • Image Credit: Chris Paukert
  • Image Credit: Chris Paukert
  • Image Credit: Chris Paukert
  • Image Credit: Chris Paukert
  • Image Credit: Chris Paukert
  • Image Credit: Chris Paukert
  • Image Credit: Chris Paukert
  • Image Credit: Chris Paukert
  • Image Credit: Chris Paukert
  • Image Credit: Chris Paukert
  • Image Credit: Chris Paukert
  • Image Credit: Chris Paukert
  • Image Credit: Chris Paukert
  • Image Credit: Chris Paukert
  • Image Credit: Chris Paukert
  • Image Credit: Chris Paukert
  • Image Credit: Chris Paukert
  • Image Credit: Chris Paukert
  • Image Credit: Chris Paukert
  • Image Credit: Chris Paukert
  • Image Credit: Chris Paukert
  • Image Credit: Chris Paukert
  • Image Credit: Chris Paukert
  • Image Credit: Chris Paukert
  • Image Credit: Chris Paukert
  • Image Credit: Chris Paukert
  • Image Credit: Chris Paukert
  • Image Credit: Chris Paukert
  • Image Credit: Chris Paukert
  • Image Credit: Chris Paukert
  • Image Credit: Chris Paukert
The commercials were a little strange at first, but the ensuing spoofs were hilarious. And all jokes aside, Matthew McConaughey has made a difference for Lincoln.

Advertisements starring the Oscar winner launched in September, and the results have been impressive. The number of customers clicking on Lincoln.com to check out the MKC – the crossover McConaughey pitched – has tripled since the ads began airing, a spokesman told Autoblog.

They also generated 4.4 million views on YouTube and spawned parodies by Ellen DeGeneres, Conan O'Brien, South Park and Jim Carrey on Saturday Night Live, which racked up another 15 million views.

Most importantly, Lincoln's sales have increased 15 percent through November, helped significantly by the strong launch of the MKC. Without the addition of the MKC, Lincoln's sales would have been essentially flat last year. The MKC has received solid reviews from consumers and the press, though it has had several recalls.

"The overwhelming response to the MKC campaign sparked truly great awareness for Lincoln," Andrew Frick, Lincoln group marketing manager, said in a statement.

2015 Lincoln MKC

Now Lincoln has launched another round of spots, which kicked off New Year's Day during college football bowl games. This time, McConaughey is hawking the MKZ sedan and its hybrid sibling. The spots, called Diner and Balance, use the same artistic formula as the earlier ads, with McConaughey intoning seriously about the cars in dramatic settings. They were shot over two days in Los Angeles and were directed by Nicolas Winding Refn, a Danish filmmaker who directed the 2011 move, Drive.

The ads continue Lincoln's multiyear deal with McConaughey, who has said he's been long been interested in the brand. He starred in the 2011 thriller, The Lincoln Lawyer, as a defense attorney who worked out of a Town Car, though that was before his deal with Lincoln.

In one of the earlier ads, McConaughey claims: "I've been driving a Lincoln since long before anybody paid me to drive one. I didn't do it to be cool. I didn't to it to make a statement. I just liked it."

That sentiment appears to have worked for the MKC's launch, and with this new advertising blitz, Lincoln hopes it carries over to the MKZ.


Other News And Notes

2016 Infiniti Q30Infiniti Q30 spied in winter testing

Infiniti is continuing development work on the Q30 small crossover, and we've recently captured it during winter testing. The heavily covered prototype looks much like the concept we saw at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show, and it appears on track to go into production in the United Kingdom late next year.

The Q30 is one of the fruits of the partnership between Daimler AG and the Renault-Nissan alliance that dates to 2010. The Q30 is expected to run a Mercedes' turbo four-cylinder engine, and it shares underpinnings with the Mercedes CLA and GLA. The Q30 is a hatch. A crossover variant, the QX30, will also join Infiniti's lineup, which mirrors Benz's two-pronged strategy with its small vehicles.

The additions come as automakers are paying increased attention to the small luxury crossover segment, which includes strong entries from Audi, BMW and Lincoln. Companies view the segment as a gateway to the brand as the lower prices can lure younger buyers, who would then theoretically move up to larger and more expensive models as their needs change.

Ford F-150 spy photoFord files for EcoBeast trademark

What the heck is an EcoBeast? Ford filed an application in December to get the rights to the word EcoBeast for use on automobiles. It appears to be a performance riff on Ford's EcoBoost technology, which uses turbocharging and direct injection to wring more power out of smaller displacement engines, while still returning solid fuel economy.

The trademark process is a long one, and Ford has only moved to begin it with the filing. Automakers routinely do this to secure potential names for vehicles, advertising taglines or to maintain rights to old names. Often, nothing ever comes of it.

We know Ford is planning several significant reveals at the Detroit Auto Show, and EcoBeast could be linked to something at the show. An EcoBoost-powered version of the F-150's upcoming SVT Raptor is one possibility. It could also be used on a concept car. Wading through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's online search reveals a number of concept names that were applied for, but then allowed to lapse after outliving their usefulness.

EcoBeast could also be a catchy line for Denis Leary and his gravely narration during Ford truck commercials. Companies are fond of trademarking taglines, like Chrysler did with "Imported from Detroit."

It seems unlikely, but we may also never hear EcoBeast again. Let the speculation begin.

Rolling Stones Jeep RenegadeRolling Stones rock a Renegade

A Jeep Renegade signed by the Rolling Stones fetched $46,000 at an online auction in December, with the proceeds going to London charity Community Links. The orange four-wheel-drive Jeep was signed by Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood and Charlie Watts.

The Renegade, which is based on a Fiat chassis, is the first Jeep built in Italy. The Stones signed the Renegade in Rome during their only Italian stop on their 2014 European tour. The Stones' signatures added considerable value to this Jeep, which the auction said had an MSRP of about $25,000. The top bidder wasn't disclosed.


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