These are clever, funny little spots, certain to propel the showcased merchandise to untold heights. We're talking about a solid, well-regarded product with hitherto limited exposure suddenly becoming a household name.
We hope Kinnear is grateful.
The host of TV's "Talk Soup" and "Later" is certainly the center of attention, and prime beneficiary, of Bozell Worldwide's efforts in 14 spots ostensibly to boost the Eagle brand. The cars, on the other hand, are given short shrift-or at least, left generally in the shadow of Kinnear's winning personality.
Each spot finds Kinnear in his trademark, deadpan banter with somebody uninitiated in the joys of Eagle motoring. To communicate value, he chats with a "government accountant," who, when Kinnear asks what Uncle Sam would pay for an Eagle Talon, estimates $14 million. To get at power and performance, he talks to a police officer. To promote the sound system, he shouts through the cranked stereo music to a young Latino guy. In other spots he talks to a grizzly biker named Porkchop, a vacuous teen-ager named Jason, women, men, blacks, whites, an insurance agent and three lawyers. Sort of Demographic Soup.
And there are chunks of meat in the soup; each spot is devoted to one or another feature of the car. But the overpowering ingredient is the broth, and Kinnear is the broth.
"We're at the Chrysler test track," he says, opening the best of the spots, "along with off-duty police officer Kirk Harris to test-drive the performance of the 3.5-liter, 24-valve Eagle Vision. Do you think you can handle all that power, Officer?"
"We're trained to go fast," the cop humorlessly replies.
"Well, you have a nice day then." Officer Harris is sent on his way. The car peels out, and a jump cut brings it right back, with a very enthused driver.
"That was great," the policeman says. "Those 214 horses really move."
"What did ya get the speedometer up to there?" Kinnear asks.
"You know, I don't know. I wasn't, uh, paying much attention."
"Well, I was," Kinnear says, producing a radar gun and checking the readout. "I'm gonna need you to step out of the car, sir. Let's go."
Kinnear's derisive mimicking of police citation-issuing demeanor is inspired and dead-on. And there's no arguing that the commercial gets across the idea that the car is fast. The question, here and in most of the spots, is "What car?" We scarcely get a look at the Vision. We hardly hear the name. What mainly we find out is that Greg Kinnear is pretty funny, in a smug, biting, straight-faced sort of way.
And that's the best spot. In several, notably a confusing one called "Back Seat" that plays like an anachronistic slap at woman drivers, the only point seems to be showcasing the talent.
Still, this is likable advertising and enough spending could make the difference. Repeated exposure to the litany of features, and to the edgy brand attitude, eventually should connect Kinnear with the Eagle name. But it will take every bit of the media weight Chrysler has promised to get the brand message across. If this becomes the typical underfunded Eagle campaign, it is destined for failure.