“Homecoming”

AT FIRST, I watched this commercial out of the corner of my eye, thinking — I already know what it’s supposed to be representing. I’ve seen ‘it’ too many times, so I don’t need to look again.

But only in the last week or so have I really paused to sit down and study it closely. It isn’t quite the same old story.

Cars are so much about status, particularly in a place like Los Angeles where we don’t often brush up against one another directly. People here then aren’t just judging a book by its cover, but by the shrink wrap covering the cover. In this sense telegraphing who you are is tricky.

Ultimately, what pulled me in was that the on-the-face of it imagery plays with our pre-conceived notions. Where is this young man “on his way to” with that intense, steely expression? You’ve got that deep-bass blooming around the edges, a foreboding soundtrack coupled with his difficult-to-read side-glance to the “little homies” on the sidewalk? What’s he up to?

Sure enough, where this young man is “going” is back home. To his mother’s arms. (Those “little homies”? He was one of those little boys, not so long ago.) And the car — Chrysler wants us to believe — telegraphs that he hasn’t forgotten what “home” means: dependable, familiar, practical — but with a little bit of down-to-earth American style. His face melts when he sees her — his Mom, and then moves toward her open arms — their smiles connecting them before their embrace.

It’s subtle and layered and surprising. A far-cry from the pop candy J-Lo commercial for the new Fiat 500 that often seems to be running in the same rotation, but sends exactly the opposite message: this flashy car says, “Yeah, I’m all that. Loud, bright and then some…” I’ve grown weary of it already. Make it stop.

Chrysler’s quiet message is built for times like this. Keeping it together is keeping it real.

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