Matthew McConaughey Is Crafting Ads for Wild Turkey as Brand’s New Creative Director

Hands-on role more than a celebrity stunt

A few years ago, when Wild Turkey approached Matthew McConaughey to be the celebrity spokesman for its new ad campaign, the Oscar-winning actor told the brand he "wanted to be more than the face of the campaign." Instead, McConaughey said, "I want to have my hands in the clay of how we tell the story, and I want to be part of the whole story, not just a character in it." 

Today, in a six-minute documentary directed Lucky 21’s Robb Bindler, the company announced that he will serve as Wild Turkey's creative director as part of a multiyear deal. In September, the company will release a new slate of digital and television spots, also directed by McConaughey, from JWT in New York. 

Could the appointment help revamp the perception of the celebrity creative director role? Over the past few years, brands like RadioShack, Bacardi, BlackBerry, Bud Light, Polaroid and more have appointed celebrities including Nick Cannon, Swizz Beatz, Alicia Keys, Justin Timberlake and Lady Gaga to serve in that role. Often the hire is perceived as a stunt, but Melanie Batchelor, senior marketing director of whiskey for Wild Turkey's parent company, Gruppo Campari, says that isn't the case this time. 

"I know that [celebrity creative director] can be a title that's talked about by a number of other companies, but our experience has been that Matthew has had an extremely high level of engagement," said Batchelor. "He's been involved in every single piece of the process, from writing the ads—he's obviously starring in the ads, and he's also directing the ads—so he's both in front of and behind the camera." 

The ads mark the first time that McConaughey, who has also appeared in ads for brands like Lincoln, has served as a director. 

"When making a movie, you have two hours to tell a story," said McConaughey in a statement. "Here I have 30 seconds to reintroduce the world to this authentic American brand that has helped shape an entire U.S. industry: bourbon. It will be a very interesting and fun challenge."