When Madison Avenue targets a demographic, we know that a certain population has become a force in American culture. The Washington Post reports that the Tea Party has become more than just a means of speaking truth to power and to argue for smaller government and reduced spending. It’s also become a bit target for advertisers, especially during the Fourth of July holiday:
In the ad, a line of British redcoats kneel in the field, muskets raised, waiting to gun down the approaching Colonial insurgents. A lonely violin plays in the background. It’s a perfect election-year spot for our time. Any second now, the candidate will appear to wax patriotic, pay tribute to the Founders and decry the current direction of the nation.
Only this is no campaign ad, which becomes very apparent when a Dodge Challenger suddenly comes barreling out of the trees, kicking up dust, with a humungous American flag sticking out the window and Gen. Washington behind the wheel. The redcoats scatter like terrified mice. “Here’s a couple of things America got right,” the tough-guy narrator says. “Cars — and freedom.” …
There’s nothing new about patriotic commercials, especially near the Fourth of July. But Dodge’s “Freedom” ad is a little different, with its direct appeal to the rebellious themes that define the “tea party” movement. Marketing consultants say the ad is one indication that the movement’s anger and energy have become part of the cultural conversation, making it a natural target for admakers.
Let’s take a look at the ad and see if we can see a fundamental, underlying problem:
George Washington’s driving a Dodge Challenger — made by the very same Chrysler that got a huge government bailout, followed by a political bankruptcy that broke the law by screwed the senior creditors in favor of the unions. Under the terms of the deal, Fiat bought 20% of what was left, with options to own as much as 51% if the US government sells it off.
Considering that the Tea Party hates the bailouts and everything for which they stand, how smart is it to target Tea Party supporters — who certainly have a sense of Revolutionary War history — by putting Washington behind the wheel? Did Chrysler think that Tea Party supporters are too stupid to realize that Chrysler got a bailout and a strongarmed bankruptcy, courtesy of Barack Obama, hardly a darling of the Tea Party crowd? This commercial seems to go out of its way to insult the intelligence of what is apparently their target market for muscle cars.
I’ve got an idea. In the next commercial, how about featuring Horatio Gates at Camden? That would be a little more appropriate.
Update: OK, I have to admit I liked this ad featuring Abe Lincoln, via commenter Macncheez:
Of course, we didn’t bail out Geico, and Honest Abe wasn’t buying insurance from the gecko, either.
Update II: I misspelled Macncheez’ name; sorry about that!