The problem with that Ferris Bueller ad

02Mar12

Commercials are generally disliked.

They interrupt people’s fun. They flagrantly copy ideas from popular culture and rarely build on them. In general people don’t thank us for the contribution we make to their lives.

Despite being faced with these challenges, Honda USA thought that teasing people with the prospect of a sequel to the adored Ferris Bueller’s Day Off would get them talking and looking forward to the Super Bowl ad breaks. They were right. Pre-Super Bowl, the excitement was palpable.

It’s just that when the sequel turned out to be a Honda commercial, a vast outpouring of loathing spilled out onto the Internet.

Here’s a printable example of many people’s opinions:

‘Dear Honda Marketing Team: Leave my past alone. Stop mining my memories in order to make a buck. You are a bunch of soulless, unimaginative douchebags. Thanks.’ floresarts

As an ad it’s well shot, has lots of hidden references to the original (for the bloggers), is entertaining and tells a story.

But it’s the wrong story.

What made the original a cult film was the joy of watching the extraordinary worldliness, guile and luck of a high school student. Who wouldn’t have wanted to be him. Now, sadly, we are told a story of a middle-aged man with a facelift driving a sensible family car. No girl friend, no kooky mate, no teachers, no Ferrari.

But perhaps the most unfortunate element of this campaign is the strategy. Honda forgot the golden rule of ‘under promise, over deliver’. Doing the opposite is risky indeed. But at least the marketing team have nerves. You’ve got to applaud them for that.

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