Matthew McConaughey- The Embodiment Of Existentialism

Many know actor Matthew McConaughey for his roles in Dazed and Confused, How To Lose a Guy In 10 Days, True Detective, and Wolf On Wall Street, among many other films. Most recently, McConaughey has been starring in a series of commercials for the luxury car brand, Lincoln. His contribution to these ads has been so powerful that Lincoln sales have increased during the period that he’s been starring in the ads.

These ads consistently feature McConaughey cruising down dimly lit, often misty, streets, while asking the big questions in life. While all of his ads are masterpieces in their own right, one is particularly moving in its encapsulation of the existentialist philosophy. The five-minute ad, titled Existential Crisis, is more or less a short film, featuring McConaughey in a dark diner, looking out the window as rain falls outside. As he stares out the window at his Lincoln MKZ, McConaughey ponders upon the essence of life. He asks questions such as, “how did I get here?” and makes statements such as, “just riding along this merry-go-round, too scared to jump off or stop,” and, “just ride this crazy wave, on and on and on, until my fire burns out.” McConaughey continues to dive into more bizarre existential thoughts when he ponders, “why did I order this water? There’s perfectly good water falling from the sky. All I need to do is look up into the sky and drink.” The ad ends with McConaughey silently leaving the diner and getting into his car, eventually riding off into the darkness of the distance.

McConaughey’s withdrawn persona and pondering of life leaves the audience with a sense of admiration. But what exactly is it about McConaughey’s performance that is so resonant with his audience that he has been able to bring such success to the brand? In particular, McConaughey appeals to a certain group of people who aspire to be greater than the constraints of society. Rather than selling the audience on the car, he sells his persona- the independent man who makes meaning out of his own life. McConaughey sells freedom and solitude, the car merely being an extra bonus. In essence, the success of McConaughey’s Lincoln advertisements comes through their appeal to existentialism.

One thought on “Matthew McConaughey- The Embodiment Of Existentialism

  1. I think it’s really interesting that Lincoln sales have increased after using ads with McConaughey in them. Clearly there is a group of people that are responding to these ads and I think you did a really good job of explaining why.


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