During the Super Bowl every year multiple companies compete and pay for their commercial to get a spot during one of the most popular sports events shown on TV in America. These commercials have signs and other cleverly used meanings embedded in the commercial in order to get a point across to the viewers. Through the use of media analysis, semiotic, psychoanalytic, and political economy, the meanings are interpreted and explain the entire content of a commercial.
I chose to analyze the Mercedes Benz 2013 Super Bowl commercial. It starts off with an average guy sitting at a restaurant. He sees two men putting up a billboard advertisement for the new CLA. The average man looks at the billboard with fascination and then Willem Dafoe who plays the devil pops up across the table from the man. He offers the man the car and the fame and fortune that are associated with owning the car in return for his soul. The man imagines dating Kate Upton and walking the red carpet with her, dancing with Usher, going to Las Vegas with a bunch of girls, having multiple photo shoots for different magazines in other countries, being chased after girls, and racing in a NASCAR race.
After those glimpses into fame and fortune he returns to reality and is heavily debating signing the devil’s contract but he then sees the price for the CLA on the billboard. It is offered at an affordable price for the average man to buy instead of selling his soul to the devil. After the devil realizes the man made his decision to reject the devil’s offer, he disappears and leaves him.
Mercedes uses the human desires, fame and fortune, associated with the new CLA to show that the car is so great that someone would be willing to sell their soul to the devil. The company uses an average looking man in order to send a message out to the targeted viewers, people who normally think they cannot afford a Mercedes, that even the average person can purchase the beautiful new Benz. The CLA upholds its end of the devil’s bargain beautifully by looking great from every angle. So great, in fact, that it’s hard to believe your eyes when the price is finally revealed. So yeah, I think this commercial will definitely arouse the interest of the primary target audience.
This commercial contains a lot of symbolism in order to make the viewers understand that Willem Dafoe is the devil. It is never verbally said in the commercial. One clue used to hint at the fact that this is a deal with the devil is the song “Sympathy for the Devil” by the Rolling Stones is played in the background of the commercial. On the contract presented to the man a backwards symbol of Christ is present. When something holy is flipped backwards, that usually represents the devil. Also on the contract there is a Latin saying, “Sigilla Posvere Magister Diabolus Et Daemones”, which means “Seal the Deal with the Devil and Demons”. The character himself is portrayed as a dark, mysterious being. His fingernails are pointed and he is wearing a Freemasonry (Masonic) ring. People mistakenly associate the secret society as Satan worshipers. There is fire on the 13 of 2013. Thirteen is probably the most important number in Masonic and occult numerology.
Mercedes-Benz has its classic car owners who love and appreciate the old models of the company but this commercial was not directed at this demographic. The use of an average young man targets the young people in the world such as 20 to 30 year old adults. This commercial sends out a message to the young adults that you can still have the great, beautiful car and the fun perks that come along with it at an affordable price instead of having to “sell your soul to the devil” to obtain a Mercedes-Benz.