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

corinne

January 1, 2007 8:31 PM

"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."

This is not true. I do pay attention and where I do like the looks of the Chrysler I would now not buy one. As I do not buy Carl's Jr's food for the raunchy ads they have on TV.

K

January 23, 2007 11:14 AM

The ad is totally offensive. Did Snoop Dog help them think up this drivel? Convince them that the 300c demographic jus' wants to be a pimp daddy too?

I was looking at the Sebring - forget it!

White, Female, 35 -50 year old

Suzanne

January 30, 2007 2:41 PM

As a wife of 20 years that was replaced by a 'trophy wife' this ad is very offensive. However, my friends who are still happily married also find it very offensive. This ad should be pulled immediately. It is a major slap in the face to the institution of marriage and to all women.

Evy Keays

February 1, 2007 4:57 PM

I too think this Ad is HORRIBLE. Not only is it offencive to women, but what about kids watching. What must their little minds think when they see a man smiling because his wife has been replaced. SHAME ON YOU CHRYSLER!!!! We were thinking of buying PT Cruiser convertible, but now NO WAY will Chrysler get our my money.
By the way Chrysler, are you so stupid that you don't realize what percent of you customers are women, no wonder your company is in trouble!

Diane

February 2, 2007 5:11 PM

I agree with Suzanne. I was shocked the first time I saw the ad, wrote a protesting email, got their typical "blah-blah" reply. Yet they continue to run this offensive commercial often. As a woman I am offended, as a married woman, doubly offended.

J Dockins

February 5, 2007 11:00 AM

Offended is an understatement. I will forever see Chrysler as an anti-family company. They won't be getting any of my dollars -- ever.

Fafa

February 15, 2007 8:10 AM

My female friends and family also find this ad sleazy with 50's style humor. Anti-family, Anti-marriage. Fine, live with it Chrysler, I too was considering a Sebring convertible. FORGET IT. I'll wait for the Toyota convertible hybrid in 2 years: Echo.

geri

February 17, 2007 12:31 AM

I just sent chrysler an e-mail about the outrageous commercial. Not expecting any kind of reasonable reply, but had to let them know. They are not thinking of all the innocent women and kids hurt by these middle aged men and their stupid, selfish actions.

Agkyra

February 19, 2007 8:35 PM

This ridiculous and immature ad put me in the never-buyer category. Chrysler: if you want to sell cars to grown-ups, you better grow up first.

Cindy

February 21, 2007 8:06 AM

What a slap in the face to all women. Isnt anything sacred anymore.
Chrysler needs to fire their add agency.
How would the men feel if it was a older woman driving and they replaced her old husband with a new younger hotter model.
I'll never look to buy a Chrysler product again.

Shame on you Chrysler.

Grant

February 21, 2007 4:13 PM

Be assured that they will reap what has been sown. Tear down marriages in this country, and your company will deeply feel the effects in its profits, and in the hearts of its people. The actors will be damaged, the country, their employees, and people who see that commercial who don't even drive the car. I would also covet the opportunity to see the advertisement's response in sales, complaints, and ratings, if they will hold themselves accountable.

Sandra

February 24, 2007 12:53 PM

This Ad really saddened me. If you think a sexy girl would go for an old man in a family sedan, you are wrong. Try using a mid-life crises sports car!
By the way my husband & I are enjoying our new Avalon and I plan to keep it that way!

Rex

February 27, 2007 8:43 PM

"How would the men feel if it was a older woman driving and they replaced her old husband with a new younger hotter model."

Men would find that quite funny, actually.

While I'll admit I'm male, I wouldn't go so far as to call Chrysler anti-family and anti-marriage. The ad is meant to be *absurd*, not a commentary on the value of women or marriage. I guess irony (and a sense of humor) really are dead in America.

Having said that -- I can easily see how the ad would offend. I think it's amusing, but it's also a stupid move on Chrysler's part.

KRC

September 13, 2007 10:33 AM

Wow. I'm amazed at how many of you are amazed. As Rex said, if the add featured a middle-aged woman whose husband was replaced with some young male model, we'd laugh. It's absurd, and that's what makes it funny.

On the other hand, most of us men aren't paranoid that our middle-aged husbands are going to trade us in for a sports car and a 20-year old supermodel.

Still, Chrysler isn't targeting you. They are trying to re-image their brands as young, fun, and in-touch, with the Chrysler brand as upscale. They're after the young and upwardly mobile, and the middle-aged but young-at-heart.

Those are two very significant car buying demographics. I'm sorry you found the ad offensive, but I doubt they care about the loss of one Sebring convertible sale compared to grabbing the demographic they are after.

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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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