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By Published on .

In advertising for cars, derivative work abounds. Take the "Case of the Champagne Glasses" as Exhibit A.

In 1990, Team One Advertising did a TV spot in which 15 champagne glasses were stacked in a pyramid on the hood of a Lexus. The car, wheels on rollers, vibrated in place as its speedometer needle raced. Glasses remained steady as voice-over says, "Even at the eqivalent of 145 mph, the Lexus LS400 is designed to stir the soul, and not much else."

Powerful product demonstration? Yes, but also powerful stimulus for creative derivatives. Two years later, Chiat/Day gave the idea an intriguing twist for Nissan's Altima, shown on rollers, engine running and speedometer needle rising, with champagne glasses-10 this time-in a pyramid on its hood.

"Haven't I seen this before?" says one voice-over. A second answers, "While you've seen this done for a luxury car before, you've never seen it done for one that starts at $13,000."

In 1993, a third automaker, Chrysler, weighed in with a Dodge truck spot from BBDO. "A lot of champagne glasses have been used to prove how smooth a car can be at high speed," VO intones to a shot of glasses on a Dodge sedan's hood. But then the camera pans lower and we see the sedan is resting on a Dodge pickup truck running on rollers. "Surely a toast is in order for a truck that can do the same," the spot concludes.

In 1994, a commercial from Rubin Postaer & Associates panned several autos-Lexus, BMW, Mercedes-all of which had champagne-glass pyramids on their hoods. Next we hear a gruff voice-over asking, "Yeah, but can they plow the back 40?" and there's a guy in a farmer's hat behind the wheel of a yard tractor (from Kubota) that-you guessed it-is on rollers and has champagne glasses stacked up on its stubby hood. But lest we give Lexus and Team One too much credit, way back in 1967, McCann-Erickson did a commercial in which a platform with filled wine glasses was extended from the body of a Buick LeSabre at tire level to demonstrate effective shock absorbers.

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