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Deal with the Devil

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With the Super Bowl looming there is almost as much interest in the advertisements that will be shown as there is in the game taking place on the pitch. Because of the huge audiences; the 2011 superbowl was officially the most watched television programme in history with 111 million views , the advertisers pull out all the stops with their production values. So here’s the Mercedes ad: featuring some brilliant visuals, A list Hollywood name (Willem Defoe & Kate Upton) and a Rolling Stones Soundtrack (Sympathy for the Devil).

I expected more from Mercedes – You wonder how advertising standards allow this sort of drivel through – a road car out performing a Formula 1 car, driving a mercedes improving your dancing ability. But most worrying is the way this ad plays on the same premise as those facile Lynx adverts with a demeaning view of women: in these ads women are so vacuous that if you own the right car, aftershave, even under arm deodorant then you are irresistible to them.

Someone is still peddling the myth that it is still possible to find fulfilment through the ownership of the right objects. The ad promises that your soul can be free for under $30 000 but by introducing the demonic theme into the ad – maybe the advertisers are actually offering not spiritual freedom but quite the opposite. The issue of possession is being raised. The trope of a deal with the devil of course plays into the narrative of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness where he was shown all that could be his if he would do a deal. But possession in another sense is also being raised: as Tyler Durden’s character put it so well in Fight Club:

The things you own end up owning you.

Jesus put it better… “What profit a person if they gain the whole world and forfeit their soul” Mark 8:36

 

3 thoughts on “Deal with the Devil”

  1. Interestingly, I saw the ad as doing the opposite. The screaming girls, Formula 1 car, etc are all part of a dream sequence – which could be the lies the devil character is trying to seduce the young man with. And in the end, the man rejects the devil’s offer. “Thanks, but I’ve got this,” he says. If he’s going to drive a flashy Mercedes, he will put in the hard work and earn it himself, rather than sell his soul for instant gratification (at least, that’s how I saw it).

  2. I think you read the advert large correctly Krish, but a couple of thoughts.

    1) It’s an Indy 500 car not an F1 (the banked track and concrete wall wouldn’t be an F1 circuit). That said, it’s still over the top, but I think that’s intentional, you aren’t supposed to believe the car can really do that.
    2) You also aren’t supposed to believe that the car will really improve your dancing skills, it’s selling you an image rather than a literal reality – this isn’t an advertising standards issue, as it’s clearly humorously exaggerated.

    That said, I agree it’s very like the Lynx adverts – I noticed the parallel when I watched it. In that sense it’s perpetuating a disturbing but deeply entrenched point of view. But I’m not sure this is doing anything new or different – the whole of advertising is based on the notion that you need new stuff, things to make you fulfilled, that’s how the whole of consumerism works. The difference is other adverts administer the message with a scalpel – this advert bludgeons you over the head with it.

    I’m not sure the selling point is spiritual freedom so much as it is an attempt to emphasise the cheapness of the car. The lifestyle that Dr Faustus sold his soul to the devil for is now available from Mercedes for only $30,000. But perhaps therein is the lie – that you can have all that and it will hardly cost you anything.

  3. I know the ad is meant to communicate that you can have it all for under 30k instead of paying with your soul. But isn’t what really happened is the man just put a price on his own soul?

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