I Never Got to Write Headlines Before

It's So Much Fun and, Oh, Also, This is About "Dr. Z"

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My column this week is about Chrysler's new ad campaign, featuring Daimler-Chrysler chairman Dieter Zetsche - aka, Dr. Z.

The column is -- in all modesty -- a work of genius typical of what AdReview readers have come to expect, filled with drama, humor, pathos, erudition, and vast depths of insight into the human condition. Or, anyway, it came it at 600 words and the spelling is mostly accurate.

What's interesting, though, is the reader commentary. Most of the time, input from you, my cherished audience, is frankly pretty pitiful -- inarticulate, obtuse and very often unfair. (More on this subject later) But this time around many of the comments were dead on. Permit me to share a few:

"Your review would be better relieved of a few predictiable German puns, but it's right on the mark otherwise. I'm flabbergasted that DaimlerChrysler would let its CEO to appear so goofy." –Santa Monica, CA

"Puns," is not the right word, but point taken. Sometimes writers have to make a choice. In making fun of Dr. Z's accent, I opted for obviousness. It was not the sophisticated choice, but I made it consciously, and now I'm feeling a little sheepish. (On the other hand, I think "This is not you Fatherland's Chrysler" is a keeper.)

"I can't stand these commercials, Dr. Z is exremely annoying. Everytime they come on, I want to change the channel. doesn't inspire me to buy a car...in fact it makes me lose confidence in Mercedes Benz." –Pasadena, CA

Yep, this is an angle I missed. In attempting to imbue Chrysler with Mercedes cachet, Dr. Z may well be equally harming Mercedes by associating it with Chrysler.

"I have watched the Dr. Z ads at least two times each. I was trying to get a handle on if they were meant to be campy, informative, quirky or cool. My take is they end-up being none of these. Regardless if Dieter Zetsche is a good guy, it just isn't even close to reality that the chairman of any international company would do any of the things Dr. Z is doing in the ads. If the set-up isn't believable, how can the product being pitched be believed?" –Dana Point, CA

And, furthermore, will viewers actually believe he is chairman of Daimler-Chrysler, as opposed to some fictitious Betty Crocker in a moustache? But, of all the response to my column, here's my favorite:

"David Ogilvy's "Only in the gravest cases should you show the client's faces," is a rule that's almost always worth following. Except for Frank Perdue, Lee Iacocca (in the first iteration) and one or two others, most clients don't make good spokespeople. In the automotive world we now have a charter member of the Lucky Sperm Club pitching Fords and a a clown shilling for Chrysler. What's next? Rick Waggoner in a gorilla suit? "–Knoxville, TN

"Lucky Sperm Club"!!! Gorilla suit!!! Damn, not only do I feel cheated out of 20 years of headline creation, I wish I'd written that.
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