Comics get last laughs with auto industry's Super Bowl ad blitz
Automakers dominated the commercial breaks during the Super Bowl, so they were prime targets for the inevitable parodies that have shown up on YouTube this week.
Chrysler Group's nostalgic Ram ad, which was highly rated by many viewers and marketing experts, quickly generated several less heartwarming variations. The original spot featured photographs of farm life accompanied by the voice of the late broadcaster Paul Harvey.
The comedic Web site funnyordie.com, which was founded by former "Saturday Night Live" star Will Ferrell and others, posted its own take, titled "God Made a Factory Farmer."
Playing new audio over the images that Chrysler commissioned 10 photographers to shoot, Funny or Die writer Nick Wiger offers his own take on modern farming: "And back when America was founded, 90 percent of the population were farmers. But now it's less than 1 percent. So God made a factory farm. And then God wanted to maximize yield, so he made pesticides and herbicides. And he made genetically modified seeds that are resistant to those chemicals. And God let Monsanto patent those seeds."
The video has nearly 50,000 views and an 81-percent "funny" rating, compared with more than 7.5 million views of the real ad (as of Thursday afternoon).
It has nothing to do with Chrysler until the end, when the voiceover concludes: "And God said, 'Granted, the American agricultural industry has evolved into a manufacturing giant that's more like Wal-mart than a mom-and-pop store. And it's backed by powerful interest groups that spend hundreds of millions lobbying Congress.
"'But despite all that, the word "farmer" still evokes salt of the earth, American Gothic imagery. And from a marketing standpoint, that would be a helpful thing to associate with an automaker that nearly went bankrupt due to mismanagement.' So God made this commercial."
Atop the final image of the Ram pickup, the video gives Ram a new tag line: "We're just like farmers (we got subsidized by taxpayers)."
Another Ram parody called "So God Made Farmville" comes from Lon Harris of WhatsTrending.com. Farmville is a game played on Facebook; if you didn't know that, consider yourself lucky.
Here's an excerpt of Harris' voiceover: "God said, 'I need someone to ignore all the important work that they have for the day and instead log into Facebook, stare blankly at the screen, grow imaginary crops, take an extra half hour for lunch, grow more imaginary crops, then go home at the end of the day and complain about being totally overwhelmed.' So God made Farmville."
A Chrysler spokeswoman declined to comment on the parodies. But Volkswagen is said to be thrilled about a parody of its Super Bowl ad for the Beetle.
The original VW ad was decried by some viewers as racist because it shows a white office worker from Minnesota speaking with a Jamaican accent to spread happy feelings among coworkers.
The spoof, which USA Today says was apparently created by Jamaicans, is called "The Germaican." A man is shown speaking German to befuddled Jamaicans, putting sauerkraut on jerk chicken, dancing in lederhosen and accidentally showing up early to work. At the end, it replaces VW's slogan, "Das Auto" with "Das Jamaica."
VW's Audi brand got a parody of its own. In a video titled "BMW Prom," the teenager from Audi's ad is shown getting ready for his high-school prom and then slipping behind the wheel of his dad's BMW, which won't start. A Twitter hashtag, "#shouldhaveboughtanaudi," then appears under BMW's logo.
Such videos have been popping up after Super Bowls for several years now. For instance, in 2011, as Toyota was in the midst of its unintended acceleration recalls, someone reimagined Volkswagen's ad featuring mini Darth Vader with a Toyota Corolla instead. Standing in front of the Corolla as he starts it up with the Force doesn't end well for mini Darth.
Most of the parodies are low- or no-budget creations filmed by comedians (or wannabe comedians seeking attention). But a few are made as part of guerilla marketing campaigns by companies trying to ride the wave of Super Bowl hype.
After Mercedes posted a teaser for its ad last week featuring model Kate Upton, a recruiting firm called HireMojo filmed a similar spot, replacing her with an overweight man with a beard and a tank top roughly the same size as Upton's.
"Hiring the right person makes all the difference," the HireMojo video declares.
You can reach Nick Bunkley at firstname.lastname@example.org. -- Follow Nick on