Detroit

Tridents, Puppies, and Cancer

THE CIRCLE OF LIFE.
Love. It’s what makes a breakfast cereal a Subaru.

Maserati’s “first ever tv feature” held our attention, we’ll say that much.

A new Michael Bay film? Levi’s? Girl Scouts of America? What are they selling? Visually compelling, with a script that was somewhere between a Beat prose poem and a trailer for a Transformers film, the ad did best what all good ads do: kept us watching, and wondering.

TRIDENT. SUGARLESS.

But did it actually make sense? Not to our thinking — and why in heaven’s name is Maserati advertising at all on American television? The answer is: The new Maserati Ghibli, which is a good 30k less than most of their models — a Quattroporte meets a Sonata, if you will.

‘Ghibli’ is a wonderfully, woefully unfortunate name, by the way, sure to be mocked as the “giblet”. Not that this would stop us from driving one. Perhaps it was chosen because it can be rendered in Chinese as, say, jibuli — 吉步力, “lucky-stride-power”, a very Chinesey name if ever there was one. Maseratis are not exactly ubiquitous on the streets of our second-tier Chinese city, but they’re far from rarities these days, and China is unquestionably a key market for the manufacturer.

Would we buy this car because of the ad? No. But then again, we’d not need too much prodding with Poseidon’s fork to buy a Maserati. We’d just need the USD$66K.

Bob Dylan is looking rough, bless him — but could he really look any better and still be Bob Dylan? His role in the pitch for Detroit and Chrysler was on the cusp of cool, but the copywriters blew it. “Let Germany brew your beer. Let Switzerland make your watch. Let Asia assemble your phone. We will build your car”. Seems they just couldn’t bear to maintain parity (Germany, Switzerland) and say ‘China’.

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Nemo me tangere.

We wonder if that decision was based in part on a desire not to offend top-brass at Wanxiang, which is now elbows-deep in the American automotive manufacturing supply chain. (And what percentage of the nuts and bolts of the Chrysler 200 is China-made, anyway?)

Afraid to let cannonballs fly at China, the copywriters were just blowing in the wind.

The Huffington Post seemed to like Chevy’s “Life” campaign, intended it seems as a tribute to cancer-survivors and those who share with them the long, difficult journey with the emperor of maladies.

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We watched the Superbowl and the ad with a family member who has been battling stage-four cancer for five years. Each year since 2009 we gather as a tribe around the flat-screen to watch the season’s gridiron finale, wondering if it will be our last time to have this beloved individual with us. It is impossible not to wonder; but game-day is generally a happy one, and a chance for us to displace for a little while the facts we live with every moment of every day, and to let the sounds of current and anticipated weeping be drowned-out by the audibles and whistles, by our collective cheers and groans.

We therefore did not enjoy at all Chevy’s imagery. Cancer is under no circumstances telegenic.  And by intruding on our best efforts to be both happy and grateful for our limited time together, Chevy succeeded only in making us annoyed and uncomfortable.

Chevy also made us very happy we drive a Ford Ranger.

We would trade-up to a British-baddy approved Jaguar if we could, but we’re tempted to see just how far down the Korean rabbit-hole goes, and take the KIA K900 for a test-drive. If we buy it, we’ll remove every badge and logo that says ‘KIA’. How the manufacturer has managed to get away with naming their product “Killed In Action” remains a mystery to us. And why doesn’t anyone else seem to care?

Nothing in the Budweiser portfolio encouraged or inspired us in the least to drink one of their beers, and never could.

We forget what it was that the ever-fetching Scarlet J was punting (Sodastream? Is that the name of something?), but the ad did not live up to the hype. We heard it was slightly indecent and was likely to trespass the bounds of good taste. But that was Chevy.

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We’re neither big beer drinkers nor fans of carbonated soft-drinks anyway, and so Bud will forgive us if we’re not tempted to uncork a frosty Bud Lite just because one guy didn’t regret stepping into a pimped-out limo with a stranger he just met in a bar. That said, we’re through with Coke. Done. Thank you for finally tipping the scales for us. We just might give the new Axe bodyspray a try, though. Or at least buy it as a gift — we’re Tom Ford fans, you see. (Hear that Chevy? Tom Ford fans.)

The “no contract” series with Tim Tebo was good-natured, amusing, and silly — which is how we like our Superbowl ads. But the initial and convincing gravitas of the Honda ad with Bruce Willis and Fred Armisen was spoiled by the intern-quality stab at comedic minimalism.

And the best waste of millions of dollars?

Last year’s (2013) politically-incorrect Hyundai ad. It is, we note, the proper response to this.