A Quick Branding Lesson From The Maybach Chop Shop

Posted on August 17, 2011 by LCT Magazine

Popular culture influences our lives whether we like it or not. It shapes the perception we have of ourselves and the world around us. It tries to tell us what's cool and what's not, what's classy and what's trashy. A product might totally suck, but if Mr. Ultra-Cool Movie Star Of This Summer's Big-Budget Blockbuster is seen using or wearing it, people will still buy it on the illusion that the products have adopted the same qualities as Mr. Movie Star, i.e. that square iron hat looks burdensome and uncomfortable, but if Johnny Depp's wearing it, then it must be cool.
Companies who understand this pay celebrities obscene amounts of cash to endorse their products. Some even offer to pay them to NOT wear their clothing for fear of a negative association, something Abercrombie & Fitch discovered on Wednesday when their stock fell 5%.
In a new music video for their single, “Otis,” [warning: video contains explicit lyrics] hip-hop artists Jay-Z and Kanye West chop up a Maybach limousine and convert it into a no-door, open-roofed, fire-breathing-exhaust-equipped demolition-derby style sedan, like something out of the film Mad Max. For most of the video, the pair speed and drift in the Maybach while models scream with excitement in the back.
Wall Street Journal writer Jonathan Welsh says that while the idea of taking "cutting torches, grinding discs, and reciprocating saws to a car that [starts at a base cost of] close to $400,000” would be sacrilege, the high-profile exposure on this video could only help, considering that the Maybach “has never lived up to the hype surrounding its launch for the 2004 model year.”
Welsh claims the Maybach was overshadowed by its competition — the Rolls-Royce Phantom — which entered the market at about the same time. "The Rolls was more imposing and impressive from the beginning, turning heads and seeming to ooze money wherever it went," he writes. “Meanwhile, the Maybach looked too much like a larger though less-distinctive Mercedes S-Class sedan.”
Now that the Maybach has spent three minutes with two of hip-hop's biggest megastars, it has earned instantly credibility and thus desirability. Just look at the popularity of the Cadillac Escalade, which has been featured in countless hip-hop videos[1] and the movie The Matrix Reloaded, which  led in part to the success of the Cadillac CTS. [See below for a clip of the chase scene from Matrix Reloaded featuring Cadillac vehicles.]
With that said, it would be interesting to see what vehicles Hollywood chooses to use for movies that involve limousine scenes when the Town Car is extinct. Will it be a stretch MKT? The new Cadillac sedan? A European luxury brand? What if it’s a Toyota Avalon? It may sound trivial, but the next chauffeured vehicle that Gordon Gekko steps out of will shape clients’ perceptions and expectations about chauffeured transportation.
— Michael Campos, LCT assistant editor

[1] Some of which look like extended car commercials.

Matrix Reloaded - the Freeway Chase Scene by FanaticMovie

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