A couple of years ago, there was quite the competition among the major car companies, and it led to a true golden age for us all. It wasn't some sort of race to see who could make the safest car, or the most fuel efficient, or even the most stylish.
No, the war I speak of was a quieter sort, a war of sounds and images, a war waged over the airwaves of television. I speak, of course, of the Indie Rock Ad Campaign Wars.
The Indie Rock Ad Campaign Wars began in earnest when Volkswagen, always a leader in youth culture, used Nick Drake's "Pink Moon" in one particularly brilliant advertisement. Soon, it was an all-out melee, as car manufacturers desperately tried to brand their product with the catchiest, most obscure, and, occasionally, ridiculously depressing song possible.
Of all the skirmishes in this war, though, perhaps none was so ill-conceived as that of Saturn. In attempting to introduce a new model, the Ion, to a young demographic, Saturn turned to the world of indie rock and pulled out a gem. They made two commercials, each featuring people driving in a Saturn as scenes from their lives played on outside of the automobile. One of the two ads was alright. Better than alright, in fact; I was first introduced to the brilliance of the Walkmen through one of Saturn's commercials.
The other, though, was not so good. The other advertisement was, perhaps, the single worst use of a song in a commercial I can honestly remember. (Hewlett-Packard using the Cure's "Pictures of You" to sell photo software is a close second.) Saturn chose Alphaville's classic, "Forever Young", and created an almost painfully sad tableau of people leaving their prom, heading toward adulthood.
In no way, shape, or form does this commercial make me want to buy a Saturn. It does, however, make me want to kill myself. It may also be the greatest advertisement to ever grace the small screen.
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