Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Music & the Ad:: Honda & Weezer's "Buddy Holly"

This commercial featuring a family in a Honda singing Weezer's "Buddy Holly" (1994) has been ubiquitous on Hulu the past week. It was directed by Jason Reitman (Thank You for Smoking, Up in the Air, Juno) for ad agency RPA and is an homage to a scene in "Step Brothers" (2008) featuring GnR's "Sweet Child O' Mine" (1987) [video].

Here's the 60sec extended cut that's particularly cringeworthy:

The concept is to sell to the older Millennials…now with kids, minivans, and a Southwestern vacation. The VP of advertising for Honda told Brandchannel they are striving for marketing that's more fun & youthful. OMG, superfun! Yes, it's very postmodern with its referents and Inceptionesque levels of nostalgia, but the only kick I'm feeling is one to the head. It's not that I feel Weezer or Buddy Holly is sacrosanct or some pop culture violation has occurred, but that the execution is awkward. Yes, it might seem be more "real" with the off key notes and the depiction of family life, but I'm inclined to agree with Spin's harsh take:

"Their awkward, off-key cover of “Buddy Holly” makes you wish that you were listening to Weezer instead of these jabronis, but also is off-putting enough that you get the sense that maybe you’d be better off if you just never listened to Weezer again."
Reitman can veer into too earnest territory (Juno & Up in the Air come to mind, but less so in Thank You for Smoking), which isn't my cup of tea, but the issue might be that the spot is trying to thread that line of being hip and wholesome, but executionally comes off as forced and strange. Silent Generation grandpa chiming in is just plain tough to watch.

I remember this song quite a bit in summer of 1994, splitting time between LA & Eugene, Oregon, along with "Sabotage" by The Beastie Boys, "Loser" by Beck, and ¡Simpatico!, a Sub-Pop album release by DC-area band Velocity Girl. I loved the Spike Jonze video for "Buddy Holly" that riffed off of Happy Days, which is still worth watching.

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