Nicely Done (But Pointless?) Lincoln MKC Short Films From Vimeo

With a nod to Matthew McConaughey, I should say I have not been writing about Lincoln long before anyone paid me to. But I suppose I am writing this to make a statement — McConaughey doesn’t want to make a statement, remember? — about a new collaboration between the Lincoln Motor Company and Vimeo.

Together, they have a video project “Live In Your Moment,” a collection of short films produced by Vimeo-chosen filmmakers. Three have been made; I’ve seen two that were sent to me.

These are short video stories not really too big on selling the specific attributes of the Lincoln MKC brand SUV, but on the attitude that fit its own image. In the first, the 5:30 long “Open Your Eyes,” a woman goes home to Louisiana to visit her 70-year old blind dad, in her new MKC. This video, from young, acclaimed advertising filmmaker, Diego Contreras, has lots of pretty, lovingly-filmed scenes of the countryside moments, and (surprisingly few) glimpses of this sleek car and really, I thought, man, it’s too bad her bluesman-type dad can’t see any of this. It’s improbably beautiful, infused with some beat-type narration about living life in the shadows, and getting out into the light and all that.

The second spot, “The Perfect Place To Be”  features a young couple (in Los Angeles, I read) who are moving out to Portland, and our narrator, the wife/girlfriend, is talking into an audio recorder in her empty apartment about all the good times she and husband/boyfriend Adam have spent together.

In this 4:30 film, we see lots of the MKC. We also see that this couple may be 25 (and no more than 28), and since we’ve seen a lot of packing going on, we also know, no kids, not a ton of possessions, some love of albums. Why/How are they driving a Lincoln MKC, I wonder? Are young vagabonds going to see this video and buy one?

And mostly, I wonder, why would I watch either of these videos? I’m really asking rather than criticizing here because the films themselves are nice enough. But how would I come to see these things and be compelled to watch either of them, if I happened to stumble upon them? They don’t particularly show off the MKC, or tell a unique but definable story. Please. Readers, help here.

In the press release about this campaign, Dave Rivers, Lincoln’s marketing communications manager explains: “‘Live in Your Moment’ recognizes that we live in a busy yet exciting world — one where we all need time to reflect and organize our thoughts. The first MKC is a quiet and powerful environment for that reflection and the campaign is designed to create awareness, conversation and purchase consideration in an emotional manner.”

Oddly, the purchase consideration I got came from checking the Web site to see if I could also find the videos there (I couldn’t) and where I discovered the MKC’s base price is a lot lower than I imagined it would be. There! I learned something, and I got a little emotional.

But I doubt many consumers will come to the Lincoln site to try to figure out the purpose of the extra-long video they just saw. I took the time because, unlike Matthew, in a way, I’m being paid to write about online video ads like this one from Lincoln.

They say someday the brands will make most of the content, and we’ll like it. Red Bull, your name is dropped so often! I don’t doubt that’s true, because again I ask, how/why would someone deliberately watch these videos, nice as they are? And as a commercial, does this sell even one car? Help me out here.

3 comments about "Nicely Done (But Pointless?) Lincoln MKC Short Films From Vimeo".
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  1. Connie Terwilliger from 42nd St. Productions - ISDN Voice Talent, December 12, 2014 at 12:51 p.m.

    I'm not sure I can help. I wouldn't search out this video and if I had run across it somehow, I don't think I would have watched the whole thing on my own. I did to see if I had answers to your questions. I don't. But I did notice that she wasn't at the wheel once during their drive - and the drive on the deserted beach while lovely to look at just seemed unbelievable.

  2. Tim McMahon from McMahon Marketing LLC, December 12, 2014 at 1:13 p.m.

    Not sure I can help but here's a shot ...
    Legendary copywriter Claude Hopkins wrote about such ploys back in 1923, when he compared the work of a salesman to the work of advertising, what he called multiplied salesmanship.

    Hopkins wrote, in effective copyrighting "fine writing is a distinct disadvantage. So is unique literary style. They take attention from the subject. They reveal the hook. Any studies done that attempt to sell, if apparent, creates corresponding resistance" (Hopkins, 1923, p. 8).

    How does this apply today? People don't want to be played. When they see a message coming at them that appears to be innocent content they are drawn to watch, particularly if it is entertaining or appealing. But, if it turns out to be a cleverly disguised ad, that's when the "corresponding resistance" arises and the appeal is rejected. These films make no bones about the film being an ad, which is good. But, if the film has no emotional connection to the brand/product, how is one motivated to purchase, or just like?

    BMW shorts more than a decade ago featured filmmakers shooting action shorts with the BMW car being the star (after all it was in the Bond flicks, eh?)

    With these vids I am having a hard time capturing the context and without it these commercial attempts fall flat as the author suggests.

    The initial entry was the Matthew McConaughey ad for Lincoln. Were we supposed to connect his role as the Lincoln Lawyer as a means for him to love the new Lincoln? It didn't happen for me. Maybe it did for others.

    Lincoln has designed a pretty cool line of cars. It appears they are positioned to appeal to a younger audience (Lincoln's goal, I think). But, besides falling prey to the character-naming trap (MKC, MKX, MKT, etc.) it seems to have missed the mark at connecting with a back story to make these films work on a commercial level.

    In the current "ars gratia artis" era, where the lines are blurring between fine art and commercial art, it seems many ad creators are struggling with this sort of an appeal, including Lincoln.

    Some rules are timeless, like Claude's message above: if its an ad write it like an ad, but connect the dots, please! I am okay if you spell it out, especially if you provide an emotional "why" to introduce the action-biased "what" ... just like Steve Jobs did when he obsessed about simple.

    What can Lincoln obsess about in these films? Product placement?

    Swing and a miss.
    Hopkins, C. (1923). Scientific advertising. New York: Lord & Thomas.

  3. pj bednarski from Media business freelancer, December 12, 2014 at 3:27 p.m.

    Really excellent responses, from both of you. I would like to like these ads, and truly, in a day I do have five minutes to spare. But you've got to get me at the right time, with the right thing. I didn't notice we never saw the woman ever driving in the second video. I look back at the PR statement and it says these videos try to position Lincoln as a car for thoughtful, reflective people--who plan special events for their dads, or keep a journal. But these just seem like nice videos. You should see the video they did with Vimeo last year--the history of the Lincoln. That to me, is quite cool, but it ends with this abrupt admission that says, more or less, "We stopped doing interesting things in 1998, but now we're back to trying that again." True perhaps, and maybe TOO true.

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