9 October 2014
Making a Prius Look Good
Almost everyone loves to watch movies. The big businesses and corporations know this and as a result, they use this knowledge to increase their advertising potential. When movie stars and celebrities endorse a product, there is usually a direct relation to an increase in sales. “I absolutely love our Prius. In addition to being obviously economically and environmentally friendly, they drive great and are just plain sexy” – Will Ferrell. Will Ferrell is an example of a movie star who can advertise a product whether being endorsed by the designer of that product or not. When one looks deeper into the creation of a film, one can often find a specific marketing campaign designed in conjunction with the script.
In the movie, The Other Guys starring Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg, we find a couple of immature cops trying to land the biggest criminal bust of their lives. Will Ferrell’s character in the film owns a Prius and in one of the beginning scenes of the movie he takes Mark Wahlberg’s character driving in it. Mark Wahlberg states, “What the hell is this?” and Will Ferrell responds, “It’s my car, it’s a Prius”. By including the model of the car, the film is establishing it’s own logical appeal just because of the fact that we know that the car is an actual American made vehicle. In Andrea Lunsford’s book, Everything’s an Argument, she states how “authority can be conveyed through fairly small signals that readers may pick up almost subconsciously”(Lunsford 59). When the audience hears the word Prius, they immediately associate the movie with Toyota and while they may not realize it, they are subject to advertisement by the company.
Will Ferrell ends up driving the Prius straight through the crime scene and the other cops come up to the window sarcastically announcing, “Prius huh? Good mileage?” On first notice, this entire scene seems to make the Prius look stupid and immature. But upon further inspection of Toyota’s marketing campaign for the Prius, we see that the main goal of the campaign is to acknowledge the gas mileage of the Toyota Prius. The movie establishes ethos by stating the mileage, while at the same time making the car seem feminine.
As the movie continues, there is another Prius dominated scene where Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg are driving the dumb-witted investor, played by Steve Coogan. What’s interesting to point out is that Will Ferrell is once again driving, and considering the fact that his character is incredibly feminine and innocent, it makes the car seem that way as well. This provides the viewer with a slight emotional appeal because they now begin to associate the car with womanly characteristics and feelings. In addition more emotional subjection is created with the emphatic red color of the car and when Will Ferrell turns on a soothing, slightly feminine tune written by the “Little River Band”.
However, the scene takes a turn as Will Ferrell steps on the gas and drives through a metal gate where he begins a car chase. The men who want to kidnap Steve Coogan’s character are chasing him, but he is able to weave through traffic and escape oncoming collisions. Mark Wahlberg asks him where he learned to drive like that and Ferrell yells, “Grand Theft Auto!” In this scene he is surprisingly still driving in the Prius. By associating Grand Theft Auto with the Prius, the director brings in a contrasting logical appeal to make it seem like the Prius can be socially acceptable, and even desired.
At the start of the movie, it really seems like the director wants to make the Prius appear as womanly as possible, and yet still continue Toyota’s campaign by pointing out its car’s great gas mileage. On a larger scale, it’s harder to understand what Toyota desires from The Other Guys. It appears that Toyota may have a good sense of humor by allowing the director to poke some fun at their product in order to sell themselves to a variety of different people. The Other Guys establishes its credibility as a comedy, and it seems that the comedy aspect of the movie is what Toyota is attracted too. If the movie were an action film than no one would want to see a Prius in the movie, because it is not super fast or super appealing. Directors as well as the corporations involved must learn to “appreciate legitimate emotions, particularly when you want to influence the public” (Lunsford 40). When the directors of the film are able to realize this, Toyota can slip through the cracks and create its own advertisement.
When watching the film normally, I would never have guessed that the Prius was forcibly being advertised. However, when dwelling deeper into the creation of the movie I can understand the use of promotion. As a result, I give Toyota and The Other Guys five pickles based on their marketing success. Movie advertisements are usually discrete and in some cases the owner of the product is not even paying for the inclusion in the film. The audience may never know that they are the subjects of an advertisement.