Chrysler "Whoops" Ads Part of Important New Genre

Posted by: David Kiley on December 5, 2006

chrysler.jpg

There are the ads on Chysler’s official AskDrZ.com website, and then there are the versions on Youtube.com. And the “director’s cuts” on Youtube.com are better and more engaging.

Chrysler claims that some loose cannon…some trouble maker… leaked the unapproved and slightly bawdier version of its ads to website www.jalopnik.com. Then the ads got uploaded to www.youtube. The whole campaign is a spoof of the old Folgers TV ads in which someone’s regular coffee is susbstituted with Folgers. In these ads, the import cars of people are substituted with Chryslers. In one ad a man’s Toyota Avalon is replaced with a Chrysler 300C. The faciliator in the ad sits in the backseat while the driver talks about his 300C in terms one would associate with coffee…”robust, rich, way more flavor.”

In the approved ad, the man in the backseat also says that the man’s wife of 20 years, Agnes, has been replaced with “this piping hot fashion model, Isabella.” The driver, with a voice that sounds like Isabella just put his hand on his crotch, says…”Oooooooh. Thank you Chrysler.”

Now…when I heard that there were ads on Youtube that were “leaked” from Chrysler, and that the automaker’s lawyers were out to get them taken down, I assumed that what was objectionable was the pretty callous notion of a man being excited about having his wife replaced with a model. Frankly, I don’t know too many would-be Chrysler buying women who are going to appreciate this vignette. To be fair, in another ad, an African-American woman, who has her Toyota Sienna replaced with a Chrysler minivan, gets her husband replaced with a suave “ladies man.” That ad comes across a bit better. It’s all subjective. But there is more humor in the minivan ad than the 300 ad.

But it turns out that the content in 300C ad that Chrysler is embarrassed about are two lines. In the unofficial ad, the facilitator says about the man whose wife will be replaced, “This guy wouldn’t know his ass from a hole in the ground.” The other line Chrysler says it’s embarrassed about is when the model says, “Drive faster, it excites my passion. Oooooh the Hemi.”

Chrysler communications chief Jason Vines has made a show of writing and saying how embarrassed he and the company is that these ads got out. Hmmmmmmmmmmmm. Consider that Mr. Vines a few months ago proclaimed how glad he was that people were writing about and discussing the much derided Dr. Z ads featuring his boss, DaimlerChrysler chairman Dieter Zetsche. Criticism didn’t bother him. he was just happy people were talking and blogging about the ads.

Chrysler has a history of pushing the envelope with sexual images and innuendo. And I’m not ready to believe that whoever leaked the unofficiual ads to Jalopnik did so without some knowledge above.

The point is that so-called “director’s cuts” will continue to become an important ad medium on sites like Youtube. Most of what passes for advertising on TV is too sanitized and sedate to capture our attention in an age of HBO and pay-per-view. There are exceptions, but darn few of them.

The idea that the leaker of these ads acted alone without any knowledge of Chrysler execs is fara fetched. But even if you buy Chrysler’s story, don’t think for a second that the company is genuinely indignant. They are loving the attention. Now, if they could only muster up anaything like the trust or respect for their brands that Toyota has.

Reader Comments

Anthony Barba

December 5, 2006 12:37 PM

Here's the link to the ads on the Chrysler Channel:
http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=thechryslerchannel

TheSenator

December 10, 2006 9:31 AM

The majority of comments on these at YouTube are indictments of Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep quality. Maybe one day the geniuses in Auburn Hills will realize that these sorts of things are slightly more important than how much "buzz" their advertising generates. Won't hold my breath, though.

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News, opinions, inflammatory meanderings and occasional ravings about the world of advertising, marketing and media. By marketing editor Burt Helm, Innovation Editor Helen Walters, and senior correspondent Michael Arndt.

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