Publish your content on The Drum

Matthew McConaughey on creating ads: 'I have no problem going against what’s popular'

McConaughey says, 'we all need to live unapologetically.'

Matthew McConaughey certainly isn’t afraid of taking chances. He’s all about trusting his gut — whether it’s his choice of movie roles, his political ambitions (he’s the leading choice for governor of Texas) or his foray into advertising. Instinct was one of the key drivers for McConaughey when he agreed to become creative director of Wild Turkey in 2016. While many celebrities attach themselves to a brand for PR purposes, McConaughey tells The Drum he’s not only passionate about crafting ads, he is also hands-on throughout the process.

The Drum: What was your inspiration for your latest Wild Turkey campaign?

Matthew McConaughey: ‘Trust Your Spirit’ couldn’t have come at a better time. Culturally, the time is right to inspire people to rediscover the courage and confidence it takes to be bold enough to listen to the inner voice that guides us. People are yearning to trust again — in their instincts and the things that ignite their souls — so they can believe in moving forward towards the direction that calls them. To me, ‘Trust Your Spirit’ is a rally cry that we all need to live unapologetically as who we are, and to show up authentically every day, even if that means going against the herd.

The Drum: What part of the creative process from the film industry are you able to apply to the ad industry?

Matthew McConaughey: An advertisement is still a story — just a shorter-form story with the direct intention to turn a consumer towards a product. In 30 to 60 seconds, a good ad and campaign will have its own ethos and identity — from message, to look, to feel, to sound and even smell. Good films and ads alike have identity and purpose, but a good advertisement initiates aspiration. As I’m sure you know, I both direct and star in Wild Turkey’s advertising campaigns, which appear on broadcast and digital platforms globally. For this campaign specifically, we used state-of-the-art projection mapping with archival footage and imagery to layer Wild Turkey’s past with its present and future, even bringing [master distiller] Jimmy Russell into the fold alongside me in the campaign footage.

The Drum: Your personal brand is pretty powerful. How do you maintain brand guidelines for yourself as you move from project-to-project?

Matthew McConaughey: Over the years I’ve tried to stay true to what I believe in and value. I want to endorse creations that reinforce my values, not siphon my credibility. I seek projects where the investments of my time, money and artistry are aligned with who I am independent of them. That’s inherent with this campaign and I hope it will inspire others in a similar way. If you are truly trusting your spirit, ‘brand guidelines,’ alliances and affiliations result naturally versus being a set of boxes you need to check. I try to make sure what I am doing feels authentic to me — that I can bring myself into the project with curiosity and an honest excitement for how a message can scale. That’s how I try to maintain my personal brand. I also have no problem going against what’s popular at any given time.

The Drum: Often celebrity creative directors tend to be a PR stunt, but you appear to be pretty involved. Tell us about your role in the campaign and the brand overall?

Matthew McConaughey: As creative director for Wild Turkey, I am ingrained in the brand and how we present it to the world. From messaging to tone to delivery I’m always exploring ways to share the heritage and tradition of Wild Turkey with consumers in a way that speaks to them honestly and inspires them to make their own choice. For the new ‘Trust Your Spirit’ campaign, I worked alongside our executive creative director Josh Combs, and partner agencies, to develop the platform and bring to life the essence of trusting your spirit through visual content and videos. I touch all corners of the creative process for both Wild Turkey and Longbranch. At this point I feel like I’m very much a part of the Wild Turkey family. It became clear almost immediately that this partnership would be so much more than what we originally sketched, and I’ve truly enjoyed growing and evolving organically alongside these remarkable brands.

The Drum: What challenges do you look forward to tackling as a creative director in the future?

Matthew McConaughey: When I visited the Wild Turkey distillery and met master distillers Jimmy and Eddie Russell, I learned about the Russell family legacy and the distilling process. But what stuck with me long after I left the distillery was the incredible story behind the brand — that’s a story I want to continue to help them share in original yet authentic ways. The Russells and Wild Turkey have earned [customers'] respect. The ‘Trust Your Spirit' campaign is about encouraging each of us to embrace our most true and authentic selves — the one we earn.

For more, sign up for The Drum's daily US newsletter here.

By continuing to use The Drum, I accept the use of cookies as per The Drum's privacy policy