Detroit Auto Show: Ford CEO Praises Matthew McConaughey Ads for Lincoln

Jim Carrey Matthew McConaughey - H 2014

Jim Carrey Matthew McConaughey - H 2014

Mark Fields acknowledges the much-parodied Lincoln Motors ad campaign in the brand's nascent turnaround: "We found our voice."

Declaring "what a difference a year makes" thanks in part to some "attention-getting ads," Ford CEO Mark Fields invoked Lincoln's infamous Matthew McConaughey ad campaign when introducing Lincoln Motors' refreshed MKX SUV at a packed press conference Tuesday at the Detroit auto show.

Citing the strongest Lincoln sales since 2008, Fields archly said, "We found our voice, introducing -- let's just say -- attention-grabbing ads with Matthew McConaughey, causing people to look at Lincoln again."

Acknowledging the surreal campaign's multiple parodies, by everyone from Ellen DeGeneres to Jim Carrey on SNL -- the latter has been viewed more than nine million times on YouTube -- Fields added, "I think there's a new marketing metric: how many times something is parodied. And you know what? Lincoln customers liked what they saw."

The spots, helmed by Nicholas Winding Refn, the Danish director of 2011’s Drive, comprise moody shots of McConaughey behind the wheel of the MKC murmuring aphorisms (“Sometimes you gotta go back to actually move forward”) in the style of his monologues as True Detective’s Rust Cohle.

Lincoln sales surged 25 percent the month after the spots began airing last November. Digital Marketing firm Amobee Brand Intelligence estimated that the Carrey's SNL spoofs led to a more than 100 percent increase in Lincoln’s brand visibility across social media. Two more Refn-directed ads starring McConaughey debuted New Year's Day.

In an interview with the The Hollywood Reporter, Fields said that he was "surprised -- but pleasantly surprised" by the response to the campaign, adding that McConaughey has since visited with Lincoln and Ford executives. "He really wants to get to know us," Fields said.

As to the campaign's left-field success, Fields told THR: "I have a 21-year-old son, and when he says, 'Hey, Dad, your Lincoln ads are going viral,' I know we're doing something right."

Read more How Matthew McConaughey's Crazy Ads Gave Lincoln Some Much-Needed Buzz