In a world where ridesharing is becoming more popular, automakers must seek new ways to sell vehicles. Car companies often approach celebrities with endorsement offers. After all, people are more likely to remember vehicles if they’re associated with a favorite actor or sports star.
Automakers may hope their customers aspire to be the next Jay Leno after seeing their advertisements. However, commercials don’t always turn out great. These are some of the weirder celebrity car endorsements.
Tiger Woods and Buick
Pro golfer Tiger Woods helped Buick market luxury cars from 1999 to 2008. Their strangest advertisement was a 2001 commercial for the Rendezvous. The commercial showed a spinning tornado — filled with Buicks — pulling the golfer upward while a Billy Preston song plays.
Woods and his passengers land safely on the ground in a Buick. Then, he says they’re “not in Kansas anymore.” The ad was meant to demonstrate the Buick’s power, but viewers were more focused on the weird visual effects.
GM didn’t get much success from its nine-year relationship with Woods. Buick’s generally older demographic was more familiar with the actual sport than Woods himself.
Matthew McConaughey and Lincoln MKC
McConaughey actually drove a Lincoln in the past, which may have inspired the company to seek him out. To market their new Lincoln MKC model, they aired an ad encouraging consumers to “live in their moment.”
In each commercial from the promotion, McConaughey would drive at high speeds on deserted roads while having an internal dialogue with himself. In one commercial he even stops for a bull in the road, and the two have a staring contest.
Lincoln was trying to create a compelling narrative to match McConaughey’s acting skills. But viewers struggled to connect with the serious tone of the ad as well as the actor’s quiet intensity. The commercials inspired parodies from comedians like Ellen DeGeneres and Jim Carrey. Despite this, Lincoln reported the commercials’ success, increasing their sales that year by 13%.
Blake Griffin and Kia Optima
In 2011, Sports Illustrated called Blake Griffin one of the Greatest Rookies of All Time. Then, Kia approached the NBA star, resulting in an odd yet comical set of car commercials. In each one, Griffin used Kia’s UVO technology to travel back in time and dispense words of wisdom to his younger self. While its latest hardware doesn’t include time travel, the ads are still entertaining.
Another factor in the partnership occurred at the 2011 NBA Slam Dunk Contest. Griffin successfully dunked a basketball after jumping over the hood of a Kia Optima. He later said he would’ve preferred a convertible, but it didn’t make his feat any less impressive. Kia saw an increase in sales after the endorsements, almost 45% compared to the previous year.