Dodge recently launched a 30-second commercial as part of Fiat Chrysler’s new “Big Finish” advertising campaign. While a competent bit of marketing, it falls into the trap of deploying holiday marketing immediately after Halloween.
On the surface, it has everything you’d want from a Christmas-themed car ad. Professional wrestler, former NFL player, and American icon Bill Goldberg makes an appearance as Santa while dwarves install a 6.2-liter Hemi into his sleigh. The Butt Rock comes on strong, accented by angle grinders and relentless engine revving until Santa’s new ride is completed. They even put antlers on the Hellcat logo. It’s stupid and awesome but also way too early for this.
We’re willing to forgive FCA. The automaker has been pretty good about not making commercials that make us strangle anyone of late. Frankly, that’s more than we can say about some of the other domestic nameplates.
With a few exceptions, Dodge’s ads for 2018 have been some of the least annoying on offer from the industry. Rather than attempting to inject some kind of smug philosophy or faux sentimentality, Fiat Chrysler’s meanest marque has relied upon goofball humor and footage of its cars ripping up the streets. There are a series of television spots for “The Brotherhood of Muscle” that equate childlike antics with go-fast cars that make loud noises. But that particularly theory isn’t too far off the mark, so even those particular spots are a little lacking.
The rest have been dumb (yet satisfying) romps that don’t take themselves remotely seriously — which is a much-appreciated departure from the norm. One of the best features a young man who is apparently working as Alice Cooper’s assistant. In the spot, you watch him speed across town in a growling Dodge Durango to accumulate black items for the venerable rocker’s dressing room. However, when Alice finally shows up in full makeup, he asks him, “What’s with all the black?”
Like a lot of Dodge ads, the humor is a total groaner. However, as with every terrible dad joke, it still makes you smile involuntarily.
We’d love to see other domestic automakers follow suit, especially Chevrolet. It continues using the “Real People” formula, despite the presence of a more-popular YouTube channel devoted almost entirely to satirizing it. Chevy’s ads are terrible and why they haven’t adapted yet is beyond us. Meanwhile, Buick and GMC’s television appearances have been infrequent and largely forgettable.
Ford’s ads have been better. While the business is openly focusing on modernity and future tech, to the chagrin of some, its most recent television spots primarily featured F-Series trucks hauling classic Americana. They’re not consistently enjoyable, but they do occasionally fool you into tapping your foot or feeling nostalgic about the brand.
In the end, we’re of the mind that building a superior product is far more important than shooting a good commercial. But we are also not the general public, who seem to agree with us on who has the best ads and are more easily swayed by a clever TV spot. Besides, if you’re paying loads of money to market your vehicles, why not do it effectively? It’s like Dodge is the only domestic badge that still realizes that it’s supposed to be selling cars.