One of my favorite things to discuss, for reasons unbeknownst to even me, is a controversial commercial. I used to love watching those “banned advertisement” shows growing up. They were always on FOX, and that is the only channel we had growing up, so I saw quite a few of them. Sexual content, language, and anything racist will usually get you banned from the air, so naturally using the death of a child to advertise a product does not seem like it would go over well.
At a German film school, a contest was held for the First Steps film company in which a young Adolf Hitler is killed after being run over by a Mercedes-Benz. Mercedes is a partial sponsor of the contest, though they do not associate with any of the video submissions. A spokesman for Mercedes, Tobias Mueller, commented to the Huffington Post that the filmmakers were legally required to include a disclaimer stating that the student-made advertisement is not affiliated with Mercedes. And good thing they did, for Tobias Haase, Jan Mettler, Lydia Lohse, and Gun Aydemir’s submission for the contest could have caused the car company a lot of trouble.
Mueller stated that the faux advertisement was “inappropriate,” though I personally found it very interesting. I consider myself typically easily offended, but the video is well-done, humorous considering the content, and to be completely honest, it proposes an interesting concept. The video entails a Mercedes driving around a small town in Austria, and though it narrowly misses two little girls, hits a young Adolf Hitler straight on, leaving him assumed for dead. His body even lays in the shape of a swastika as his mother sadly calls out “Adolf.” We get a brief glimpse of the man he becomes when the car hits him, which is a good way to point out exactly what the commercial is attempting to get across.
The slogan “Detects dangers before they come up,” is displayed across the final scene.
In defense of their video, Haase claims that “Mercedes sells its cars on smart technology which prevents accidents. We wanted to pose the question of what might happen if technology had a soul.”
I love the idea of technology having a soul. I love the idea of history changing. I love the concept of this commercial, though I am fully recognizing that it is pretty terrible to use the death of a child to sell a product, regardless of how terrible that child may eventually become. I feel that I may be in the minority here, but it is worth the conversation. What do you guys think?
To be clear, this is not a Mercedes commercial, but a video submission for a contest.