Last week a video appeared on-line in which Matthew Broderick played an adult Ferris Bueller, at which point Jalopnik broke the story that this was for a Super Bowl commercial for a Honda CR-V. And so Honda decided to just go ahead and leak the full commercial a week before the game. We are not posting it here. If you want to see it, you can see it. It’s all over the place. Can I just say real quick that this ad bums me out so much? The basic premise is that Matthew Broderick calls in sick from ACTING and then goes about having a fun day in his Honda CR-V, all the while talking directly to camera, and re-experiencing those klassic moments like the valet parking guy calling out “Broderick. Broderick.” (There are much more important reasons why this ad stinks and bugs me, but it doesn’t help that the monotone “Bueller” joke has been parodied and done to death so much that actually seeing it done in some kind of official spoof capacity is almost physically painful.) How fun. Let’s all run out and buy cars now. The thing about this ad is that not only is it just completely boring and lazy and unimaginative, which is particularly terrible in advertising because however insidious or malevolent the practice of trying to convince people to purchase things they don’t need in order to fulfill existential gaps in their self-worth, the fact of the matter is that it has least been INTERESTING to see them try and do this over the past 20 years as consumers have gotten more savvy and less easy to please/convince. But of course the ad is getting tons of attention* because people miss the past, and that is the saddest part of all. The past is gone, boys. You’re more than welcome to rewatch the actual movie on BLU RAY, that sounds like fun, but the uninspired use of nostalgia in order to sell a mid-priced sedan with decent mileage and family-friendly safety features makes me feel the way someone who tried to burn everything to the ground must have felt right before they did that.

(I wrote a Tweet that basically said the same thing as this post but in MUCH fewer words, and someone wrote back a joke about this ad being like The Hangover II, which, incidentally, they were both directed by Todd Phillips so go figure.) Some people will complain that this ad is “desecrating” their beloved movie (actual word I saw on the Internet) but I don’t think that’s true. Your movie is fine. Don’t worry about your movie, it’s exactly the same. The problem is just that it works much like the Transformers movies to prove that there is a market for the tired and the lazy and the uninspired and the vacuous. The more we come to rely on nostalgia and empty parody as a replacement for actual imagination (and I know that I am just talking about a car commercial, but this is a car commercial that is dominating blogs and Facebook and the conversation, so it’s more than just a car commercial, and ultimately nothing is just a car commercial, I am pretty sure I learned that in college) the more this pattern will reinforce and engender itself until that’s all we have, parodies of parodies starring the guys from College Humor. And then you get things like this poll from the MSNBC website (THE MSNBC WEBSITE!):

What’s your favorite moment from the ad?

  • The fake sick phone call
  • “Broderick … Broderick”
  • Broderick almost spotted on TV screen
  • Singing on parade float
  • Valet steals car
  • Car switcheroo at spotlight
  • Broderick tells audience to leave after ad appears to be over
  • Other
  • No favorite moment, it just wasn’t that great

OOF. It bums me out! The world we live in sometimes and the values we place on certain things that seem to directly contradict my own values! Then again, if we continue with the analogy, the Transformers movies are very popular and I do believe that people are entitled to like whatever they want, so they like this, so what do I know. Forget it. I take it all back. Great commercial. Enjoy.

*I’m sure someone is going to argue that if I don’t like the fact that this ad is getting so much attention, then why am I giving it more attention. Oh well, you caught me. But I think that’s a boring counter-argument. We talk about things here, that is what we do. Try harder. You can gotcha me better.
Comments (90)
  1. It also makes me sad because Matthew Broderick absolutely has “fuck you” money in the way that he could say “fuck you” to his agent in regards to doing this commercial and yet… he didn’t.

  2. “…in order to sell a mid-priced sedan…”

    I’m starting to think Gabe doesn’t know that much about cars after all.

  3. Just give Jalopnik the Pulitzer already!

  4. Matthew Broderick is getting weird looking, isn’t it? He is somehow still wicked youthful looking whilst simultaneously clearly decaying as the minutes go by. Pick one!

    • Just don’t ask to see the portrait of himself in his attic.

      • He is like Dave Foley and Leonardo DiCaprio: An aging man baby. Foley’s buddy Bruce McCulloch said it best on Kids in the Hall: The cute as a species do not age well.

        I don’t really like this ad because I do not particularly like Ferris Bueller himself and I thought almost everybody had agreed that he is The Worst. But no. Everybody I know who is NOT on this blog loves him. The sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, wastoids, dweebies, dickheads — they all adore him. They think he’s a righteous dude. And I just think to myself, ‘Why should everything work out for him? What makes him so goddamn special?’ Screw him!

        Sometimes I feel like the world is Save Ferris and we few, we happy few, are the Ed Rooneys and Jeannies who see through Ferris. *SIGH*

        Whatever. Everybody knows it was Cameron who was The Business.

  5. The whole thing reminded me of the Family Guy style of reference humor. In that it’s like “See! Remember that thing! Now it’s exactly the same but a slightly different situation! ISN’T IT HILARIOUS?” No, Honda CRV, it is not hilarious. It is disappointing. Reference-humor and parody can be hilarious, but it has to feel earned, rather than “let’s hit this, this, and this beat that everyone knows.”

    It sounds stupid to say that I was expecting more from a car commercial, but I was, given the hype/venue potential.

    • I’m waiting for the Home Alone Brinks commercial. #HughesAds

    • They could have at least actually gotten Cameron and Sloan back or something. It just feels lame that it’s ONLY Broderick. Was Ben Stein really doing something else, that he couldn’t have just played the valet guy? And it probably would have been funnier if it was actually Ferris and not Matthew Broderick.

      If Ferris had a home life with Sloan and he and Cameron were carpooling to some lame office job, the fact that he drives a CR-V and would want to play hooky might have made sense. As it is, it just kind of felt like Broderick is a huge baby for not being able to muster the strength to go get pampered all day on a movie set (or whatever).

  6. Nah, I’m with the Asterisk. I don’t think it’s a lazy boring argument…ad companies aim for one thing and one thing only: your attention. There is such a thing as bad press – for example if this ad were racist or controversial in a bad way, which may provide reason for stupid people not to buy a product – but if the ad is not controversial, then they win by you talking about it.

    “Can we do a spoof of Ferris Bueller?”
    “Will Broderick do it?”
    “What happens if it’s good?”
    “People will talk about it presumably.”
    “And if it’s bad but not controversial-bad?:
    “Probably people will still talk about it.”
    “Green light!”

    Even if it were worse than it actually is, by mentioning that a company exists called Honda, and they are releasing a product called the “CR-V,” by bringing it up, you’re doing exactly what they want. Doesn’t mean you can’t do it…but it does, in effect, prove their marketing team right – they got you to talk about a garbage ad.

    • A pop culture blog tricked into talking about pop culture?!?! Chaos reigns.

    • And now you’re talking about talking about a garbage ad. Everybody wins!

      • Comedian Pete Holmes had a very funny bit about the argument that the advertising company wins because we’re all talking about it, which is really only true if we are also running out and buying Honda CR-V’s by the handful. Which we aren’t. Talk is, as they say, cheap.

        • Take it from the E-Trade Baby! He’s SMART!

          (I love Pete Holmes, so I’m not bringing up the fact that he’s the E-Trade baby as a slam, or to in any way detract from Gabe’s argument)

        • Show me data that suggests sales post-superbowl for car companies don’t increase, and I will accept that point. As far as I’m concerned, sales are irrelevant. We’re talking about success of advertising in 2012.

          Superbowl ads have one goal. it’s not even the superbowl yet, and they already succeeded in achieving said goal. They don’t even need to invest money in the expensive Sunday airtime anymore, technically. We can absolutely talk about how stupid and terrible this ad is…but that doesn’t make it unsuccessful either. It is all at the same time, awful, expensive, and does exactly what it set out to do.

          Think about this – they didn’t invest all that time and money JUST to entertain people. And they clearly aren’t trying to get you to buy their cars on the merit of what the cars have to offer.

          So the aim is clear. And we are feeding into that aim. For me, that’s the only thing actually worth talking about it. The concept of the ad is pathetic. If we know what they’re trying to do, then at least we can make an effort to send them a message that it isn’t working. Or it’ll keep happening. Does anyone thing that the goal of the ad is to make us laugh, and only that?

        • I think this might be true with regards to large, “life-decision” purchases such as new cars, but I honestly believe that advertising has significant sway over even intelligent, well-educated, and skeptical consumers. Maybe it’s on a subconscious level, but if you see an ad for say, deodorant, and that ad makes you laugh a little bit, when you run out of deodorant and are at the store you might think about that ad for a fraction of a second and think, that ad gets my sense of humor, maybe I should try out their product.

          I’m only talking about a vague brand of deodorant here. It could be any of them. Hard to say which.

          • (For the record, I do not use the brand of deodorant implied in the above comment. I suffer from profuse underarm perspiration and require prescription-strength antiperspirant.)


          • Very true, That One.

            “I like that Interesting Guy! Let’s get Dos Equis!”

            Concerning Old Spice, which I am going to say is what you were talking about, very much advertises in the manner you’ve described. I like most of their commercials very much, yet I have never had any inkling to switch deodorants. Hygiene products are specific to an individual, so you find one that works for you, and then you’re done. Right?

            That being said, I LOVE the one with Bruce Campbell sitting by a fireplace with a painting of a clipper ship above the hearth that goes on forever.

        • Remember when DMX said that? When he said that? In his music? Memories.

    • That is a fair point, I think. There’s that old Lewis Black bit about super bowl commercials being so epic and crazy that he has no idea what they’re even selling any more. “Two rabbits sit on a fence. One kills himself. Buy a bike.” So there’s definitely something to be said about ads selling a product and getting people to talk about said product.

      On the other hand, I feel like the Super Bowl has taken on a separate world for commercials. It’s become a place to blow up commercials to its largest stage and stretch the limits of what could be considered “advertising.” I do look forward to how creative they can be given the scale and budget that most companies shell out for these ads. Unfortunately it usually just turns into a bunch of bears hitting dudes in the nuts, but sometimes you get something great like the Star Wars kid from last year. From its premise, I was hoping for something on the more creative side in this case, and I was disappointed.

    • “Oh, Gabe’s going for that ‘anti-marketing’ dollar. That’s a huge market.” -Hill Bicks, Marketing Executive

    • Also, it was intended as a Superbowl ad, and I don’t think I can emphasize enough how deliberately terrible superbowl advertising is, due to the nature of competing for discussion – R2D2 points out below how lazy it is from a strategic perspective, but the only real strategy on Superbowl sunday is to get people to talk about the ad. They don’t invest money to teach consumers about the benefits of using such products – its completely “How are we going to be the brand that people talk about on Monday?”

      That’s why beer ads no longer teach us about the hot hot ladies we can get by drinking their beer, and pretty much stick to Clydesdales and Belching Frogs…they don’t want to alienate the growing demographic of women that watch the superbowl. 10-15 years ago, superbowl ads were totally catered to 20-50 yr old men. They can’t do that anymore.

    • Does Honda really need people to start talking them up? Is there still a demographic somewhere that doesn’t already know about Honda? Better yet, is there a demographic that is familiar with Ferris Bueller but doesn’t know about Honda? That kind of advertising is more effective when you are trying to build up a brand, but who are they targeting? I can’t remember the last time I heard someone say “What is Honda?” The reason I can’t remember is because I have never heard anyone say that ever because those people do not exist (or live anywhere that Honda sells cars, which means they don’t exist to Honda) and thus are not likely to find themselves discussing the merits of this commercial.

      • Of course not…I don’t even really think name recognition is something that would apply to cars in this day and age, but I’m not the one doing market research and investing.

        Usually it’s not a matter of “What is Honda” it’s more a matter of walking into a place and having your eyes drawn to the thing you know. This works wonders actually, for something like Italpasta (whatever…first thing that popped into my head, but there’s like, 300 varieties of pasta at the grocery store, so if you recognize a name you’re more likely to buy it.)

        For cars, I think it’s stupid, but I’ll bet they’ve done a study that shows a person is more likely to walk into a dealership on a given day if they associate it with their demographic, which is defined my certain movies yada yada. It sounds stupid, but it might help sell a car or two.

        • In terms of getting people to talk about it … the number of people that are informed about this ad because of this blog, is extremely small compared to the number who see it during the Super Bowl, or through all the coverage that Super Bowl ads get, etc.

          While the getting people to talk about it is the ‘goal’ … this is a very small drop in the bucket.

          • This is not the only forum this ad is being discussed. My facebook already blew up with people posting this shit. You’re right, this is only a minuscule part of the pie, but that pie made up of many putrid slices, since this morning, is still full of gross apples.

      • It’s not about brand recognition, but rather building up cultural cachet around the brand. That’s why this ad is smart while being stupid and lazy – it’s targeting people similar to us, who spend all our time thinking about self-referencing culture.

    • I think we are all ignoring the real mastermind here and that is Gabe for getting us to talk on his website for forever about things we dont really care about. Clever girl.

  7. I think Gabe is just biased against car commercials. Exhibit A:

  8. You know what’s probably not a good way to sell cars? Directly referencing a movie that featured a much cooler car than the one you’re trying to market.

  9. NOPE. I don’t want to watch this thing.
    Besides the obvious reason of I don’t like seeing actors reprising roles 25 years old, I also already have a vision in my head for Ferris Bueller’s spiritual successor, and that was Matthew Broderick in Election.
    Case closed.
    Perfect bookend.

    • I was going to say Matthew Broderick in Tower Heist. But now I’m realizing, that guy has played a sad sack in every single movie he’s made since Ferris Bueller. Huh.

    • Nope, Ferris Bueller would have wound up as either an alcoholic rapist or CEO of Goldman Sachs, depending on his level of motivation. Dude was a psychopath is what I’m trying to say.

    • I always imagined Ferris going to college, focusing on studying biology, and eventually assisting the US Army in protecting NYC from a large radioactive iguana.

  10. The ad is lazy as fuck from a creative perspective, for sure. But what about from a strategic perspective? I don’t think the concept really does much to push either the tangible benefits or the overall image of the CR-V, and for that reason it deserves twice as much scorn when it’s evaluated as an ad.

    It’s really just a bunch of self-indulgent bullshit who thought it would be cooler to make a Ferris Bueller parody than to sell Hondas.

  11. ferris bueller was kind of a shitty person.

    so this all makes sense, is what i’m saying.

  12. I thought it was pretty cool. Would have been nice to see Cameron or Ben Stein too, but it works for what it’s trying to create the buzz for.

    Mission accomplished.

    • They’re going to appear in future installments of this series. In the next one, Cameron pulls up beside Ferris in his CR-V and says “That thing got a hemi?” Then, in the commercial after that, Ben Stein is going to appear and talk about how evolution is a lie for no apparent reason.

  13. guys, can we relax? It’s just a commercial selling a car and matthew broderick did a charming job of being a bajillion-year-old Ferris Bueller. It’s fine.

  14. The real problem with this ad is that when people see it and realize the movie that captured their youth came out almost thirty years ago, the last vehicle they’re going to be spurred to run out and buy will be a safe, family-friendly Honda.

  15. Someone who didn’t know that John Hughes died probably watched this commercial and said, “Oh, I guess John Hughes must be dead.”

  16. This reminds me of that time when George Lucas turned Star Wars into a two hour Burger King toy commercial.

  17. It’s the new Van Halen video of car commercials.

  18. It’s a shame the ad doesn’t show the next day when he is forced to get rid of the car after being fired because his parade float video went viral showing him to be the truant he is….

  19. I’m eager to find out more about the safety features


  20. Have they done a take on “The Breakfast Club” for a Skechers commercial yet? I’m sure those guys could use some quick cash.

  21. This commercial won’t work on me since I already bought a Honda CR-V as a result of the product placement in Walking Dead.

  22. Uh…Matthew “I Killed a Guy With a Car 20-some Years Ago (and Tried to Help the Family With Closure 16 Years After, but Still Killed a Guy and Was Fined Only $175)” Broderick in a car commercial?

    I don’t know, you guys.

  23. I’ve heard this is Dan Quayle’s favorite commercial of all time.

  24. The best parts of that movie were Ferris’ sister, the principal and Cameron. Ferris was the most boring part. He was the straight man in a world of sad misfits that I identified much more closely with. This ad reeks of that legend’s mediocrity.

  25. Don’t know why everyone was surprised that this was a car commercial. I’ve known for awhile because my best friend’s sister’s boyfriend’s brother’s girlfriend heard from this guy who knows this kid who’s going with the girl who was a PA on this commercial.

  26. I’ll just point out that I read this blog because I agree with Gabe, and that’s what people do these days, they go on the Internet and read the stuff that reinforces their own opinions about things, or more specifically, read the work of people who are better at articulating the things that they are already thinking about. And I’m not saying this in a sarcastic or snarky way, which is another thing people do on the Internet, they say things using sarcasm and snark to hide their own horrible feelings about themselves or to avoid recognizing their own failings and/or shortcomings. So let’s all do a slow clap for this amazing piece of advertising. “Bravo” to Matthew Broderick and “Bravo” to Honda and “Bravo” to pointless nostalgia* and “Bravo” to trailers for commercials. It doesn’t change the fact that all the viewers were thinking the exact same thing: “Gee, Ferris Bueller sure got fat.”

    I look forward to the upcoming Ford Fusion ad starring Anthony Michael Hall, Ilan Mitchell-Smith and Kelly LeBrock.

    *Actually, sometimes I disagree with Gabe about nostalgia. It has its merits.

  27. I haven’t seen the ad but my favourite bit is when the principal is arrested for child pornography.Really brought the hilarity of referencing to another level.

  28. I found the ad to be amusing. I think people read way too into things sometimes.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post, reply to, or rate a comment.