Spock vs. Spock: Audi S7 Clip with Zachary Quinto and Leonard Nimoy is Fascinating—and Hilarious [The Ad Section]
Audi’s new two-minute-plus online “commercial” is the perfect example of how car advertising works in 2013. Timed to capitalize on the May 16 release of Star Trek Into Darkness, the video opens with Zachary Quinto (who plays a young Spock in the latest movies) losing to Leonard Nimoy, the original Spock, at iPad 3D Star Trek chess. Having been electronically checkmated by the master, Quinto suggests a new challenge: a round of golf followed by lunch, paid for by whomever gets to the country club last. And then the fun begins.
Everything Quinto does is cool and effortless and accompanied by Star Trek music. The shots of his Audi S7 are heroic and futuristic, and the car’s power hatchback is shown to easily allow the loading of his golf bag. Nimoy, on the other hand, curses as he struggles to fit his clubs into the trunk of his Mercedes-Benz CLS550 and finally resorts to strapping them into the front passenger seat. He meanders to the country club, singing aloud to himself as he does. Not surprisingly, Quinto and his S7 are waiting when he arrives, and even though the aging Nimoy feigns frailty as an excuse for being late, Quinto claims victory and the free lunch. Not so fast, Klingon breath. Nimoy exits the Benz and, after observing that they’re not actually inside the club yet, executes a deft Vulcan nerve pinch that drops Quinto to the ground. But wait, there’s more! After a super proclaiming Audi’s “Truth in Engineering,” Stanford University’s autonomous Audi TTS research car pulls up. When the driverless car heads off to park on its own, the Spocks look at each other and deliver Spock’s famous Star Trek bon mot, “Fascinating.”
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The video crested 2,000,000 views within 48 hours of its debut on Audi of America’s YouTube channel. Search “Nimoy Audi commercial” on Google, and you need to go 32 pages deep before you find an off-topic result. Based on the posts, most viewers like it. They like seeing Nimoy and Quinto in what are (ostensibly) their own homes, they like observing their (ostensible) real-life relationship, and they like showing off their insider Star Trek knowledge, like knowing that Nimoy singing “The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins” is a nod to his short-lived recording career in the late Sixties, when the song appeared on his second album. No one seems bothered very much that in reality the trunk of a CLS can handily swallow a bag of golf clubs, or that, beyond this video, Audi has no proprietary tie-in with Into Darkness. (Contrast that to Iron Man 3; Audi has aggressively promoted the R8’s featured role in that film.)
In fact, relatively few of the posts have anything to do with Audis. Maybe that’s because this isn’t really a commercial. The S7, along with the CLS and the TTS at the end, constitute product placement—props, actually—in a short film about two celebrity pals who like to compete with each other. Audi paid for it, so its car gets to win. The carmaker also gets serious viral pass-along and widespread mention in a huge array of national media, almost all of it positive. And that’s the way advertising works today: Be smart, be topical, use your own distribution channels, and create buzz-generating content. Audi knows the formula—and that it can help the company live long and prosper.
Award-winning ad man-cum-auto journalist Don Klein knows a good (or bad) car commercial when he sees one; the Ad Section is his space to tell you what he thinks of the latest spots. The ad’s rating is depicted via the shift pattern at the bottom, but everyone has an opinion when it comes to advertising, so hit Backfires below and tell us what you think, too.
By Don Klein