Monday, June 6, 2011

First Eminem, now Iggy Pop selling Chrysler sedans

Driving a Chrysler 300 lets everyone know you eavesdrop on gospel choir rehearsals, troll independent record shops, shop at Kenwood Towne Center in clothes you bought in New York, and were invited to a Superbowl party last year.

Several years ago, Henry Rollins ranted about the use of the classic recordings by The Stooges in car commercials:

Well it has happened again, as Chrysler's "Imported from Detroit" campaign continues to exploit Detroit.

This new Chrysler 300 commercial makes even less sense than the Eminem one:

Instead of Eminem as our protagonist, we have some midlife crisis dude driving his shiny new Chrysler 300 to a record store, where he happens upon an early Iggy Pop record. In the commercial's final seconds, we hear "No Fun" from The Stooges' self-titled debut record -- NOT the actual record the guy bought at the store.

What's so odd about this commercial is that the Iggy Pop references pass so quickly (the record being found in the store, then the Iggy Pop artwork on the elevator door), it's as if it was designed to pique the curiosity only of those who recognize a song from the B side of a record that peaked at 106 on the Billboard charts in 1969. "No Fun" was never played on the radio, and aside from one time when I heard it played under pregame highlight footage on Monday Night Football, I've never heard it in public.

It is, of course, a great piece of rock and roll, featuring one of the greatest lyrics of all time at 1:35 and perhaps the most life-affirming string bend in history at 4:32:

But there's more -- I thought I was done with this blog post before thinking that our mild-mannered protagonist might in fact be someone famous. Turns out he's a fashion designer from Detroit named John Varvatos. I had never heard of the guy. According to his bio on Wikipedia:

John Varvatos credits his early obsession with rock ‘n roll as the catalyst for his interest in fashion. A unifying theme in his design, it is deeply ingrained in all his efforts and evident in every expression of the brand. The memorable ad campaigns for the main collection—shot by Grammy-nominated music documentarian Danny Clinch—have featured such legendary icons as Iggy Pop, Alice Cooper and Velvet Revolver.

Okay, whatever. I gave him the benefit of the doubt.

Then I made the mistake of looking him up on Youtube, and found that he bought the old CBGB's and turned it into a fashion boutique:

I'm speechless. Here are two of the clip's comments:

This is so wrong on so many levels.

I was a young HC/punk who found a home away from home at CBGB in the early 80's and in the late 80's I started working there and was there til the end in 2006.

I would rather see a McDonalds or Starbucks in our old space than this boutique that represents the opposite of everything we stood for.

800 dollar "punk" boots and 90 dollar "punk" t-shirts.

Better we be forgtten than have our carcass defiled to give this leech credibility.

So who conceived of this preposterous Chrysler 300 commercial? Was it the ad wizards at Chrysler, or did Varvados himself call the company the day after the Superbowl with his next big self-promotional idea? Either way, no doubt you'll soon be able to trade in your Eddie Bauer Ford Explorer for a Varvados Edition Chrysler 300.


  1. I find it funny that Detroit is being "promoted" by someone most people don't know, who has fled the city to live in New York! obviously Chrysler doesn't care about the city, they just want a cool looking add.

  2. Iggy Pop moved away around 1980. He lives in Miami and drives a Rolls Royce. Apparently most of his income stems from songs he wrote that David Bowie recorded.

    Also, two of the guys who performed on that record in 1969 have died so I'm not quite sure who is getting the money from this cameo. At worst Elektra Records is getting all of it and the surviving members of the band have no say when it comes to its commercial use. Such a situation is not uncommon.

  3. I like Eminem's commercial better too. The video and all the effects added on it made for a great ad. But this issue is probably new to a lot of people. It would be good for them to read this too.

    Jolandi Kerstetter

  4. Who freakin' cares? Iggy's music is finally getting the attention it deserves. I am a Detroiter, and Iggy deserves all the attention humanly possible.

  5. Hey world this is Al LoJack recording artist of Miami Beach. Thought I was seeing things when I saw iggy.
    If this car has half the success as iggy and bowie, Detroit is back!!!!! Regardless Google
    Thx friends