Coen Brothers’ Super Bowl Ad Uses ‘Easy Rider’ to Sell Mercedes-Benz

     January 30, 2017


Over the next week, a collection of Super Bowl commercials will inevitably pop up online to get advance buzz rather than try to compete with all of the other ads on Sunday. This past weekend, Mercedez-Benz released the ad they’re planning to run during the Big Game, “Easy Driver.”

The Coen Brothers directed the ad, which plays off the classic 1969 film Easy Rider. For those who haven’t seen Easy Rider, it’s a prime piece of countercultural cinema that was a key contribution to the New Hollywood of the late 60s and early 70s. In the film, Peter Fonda and co-writer/director Dennis Hopper play bikers Wyatt (Fonda), nicknamed “Captain America”, and Billy (Hopper), and they take a drug-fueled trip across the U.S. only to meet tragedy along the way. It’s a fascinating movie, and a key piece of cinema history that demands to be seen even if, formally, it’s a little crazy and unwieldy (a result of your filmmakers using real drugs while making the movie).

Of course, the revolutionary cinema of yesterday is today’s advertising fodder. While others have certainly parodied Easy Rider, it’s a bit disheartening to see the movie used as a platform to sell an expensive luxury car. When Fonda walks in at the end and gets in the Mercedes-AMG GT, he may as well say, “Selling out is fun!”

I eagerly await next year’s Superbowl ads.  Hopefully, in one of them Dustin Hoffman is walking across the street and then bangs on the hood of an Uber to shout, “I’m walkin’ here, but I don’t have to!” before getting in the car and riding away.  I’d also like more of those DirecTV commercials where the character breaks the fourth wall to tell me about the benefits of satellite television.

Check out the ad below. The Coen Brothers recently signed a deal with Annapurna Television to create the western anthology series The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.

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