Dodge’s Heel Promo: Wrestling Fans are Poor and Trashy
Translation: if you like wrestling, buy a Mazda3 instead of a Dart. Actually, just buy a Mazda3 instead of a Dart anyway because the Mazda3 is also a million times better.
My girlfriend, whom I love very much and know to be a possessor of superior intellect, has an odd fixation with ABC’s The Bachelor. I don’t hold this against her by any means, but I am entirely incapable of seeing the appeal of watching a particular television show when all it has going for it is OH IT’S SUCH A TRAIN WRECK YOU CAN’T LOOK AWAY.
On the couple of brief occasions where I’ve sat with her and watched some of the goings-on, I quite easily ascertained the show’s formula: semi-attractive male simultaneously courts 20 women, making out with each and every one like tongue-kissing is a means of foreseeing one’s romantic future tantamount to the way Johnny Smith’s handshake with Senator Greg Stillson allowed him to see America’s future nuclear obliteration. Invariably, a couple of ladies will squabble with one another over some insignificant ridiculousness or another, and at least four or five of the female cast members will proclaim through tears that they are “here for the right reasons.” In the end, someone gets denied a flower and pouts at the camera while the charmless hero reminds those remaining that he intends to marry the winner of the show because he’s looking for love the good ol’ fashioned AMERICAN way. Tune in next week to see who this man will kiss (spoilers: it’s everybody).
Side note: why is there no Constitutional ban on marriages between people who meet on awful television shows and have only known one another for upwards of a couple of months? WON’T SOMEBODY PLEASE THINK OF THE SANCTITY OF MARRIAGE?
TL;DR: everything about The Bachelor is terrible and gross and I hate it. To be clear, this is not a judgment as to the content of your character if you happen to be encapsulated in its boozy tractor beam. You do you. It does bear repeating that The Bachelor sucks on ice starring Idina Menzel, but it does me no good to generalize its entire viewing audience as low people because I don’t see the value in the show’s content.
Since I usually make myself sparse when the show comes on, I am fortunate enough to only ever overhear it from the adjoining room. Between bleeped-out insults and crocodilian sobs, I’ve repeatedly heard this familiar spot come up during commercial breaks:
It’s a fairly unremarkable ad, all things considered. You’ve probably seen it all over different television channels by now, so much so that it’s been played out to the point where any charm it once had has evaporated entirely.
One of the places you won’t see this Dart ad, however? WWE Raw. Why? Well, there’s a very specific reason. Let’s talk about it.
According to Wrestling Observer, Dodge recently bought up a bunch of advertising time from NBC Universal that it intended to use to shill the Dart to Gen Y car buyers. As it happened, the spots occurred during programming with low ratings (read: probably that godawful Constan-teen adaptation), leaving Dodge a bit miffed about its return on investment. NBCU, saintly bunch that they are, offered to make it right by re-circulating the ads in spots with better visibility and more value. One of the suggestions they cooked up was WWE Raw on the USA Network.
It made all the sense in the world, really. Raw has been around for more than 22 years, averages around 4 million viewers on a weekly basis, and scores extremely well in the coveted 18-49 male demographic. It’s a great place to be seen by the kind of people who would potentially buy a sub-$20k compact car that is touted as being sporty.
Dodge didn’t see it that way. The automaker vehemently declined the spot, allegedly responding, “WWE doesn’t make sense for Dodge Dart. WWE is very trashy. Not appropriate for our target.” It also added that Dodge’s belief was that WWE fans are “low income people” who can’t afford to purchase the Dodge Dart despite it being one of the cheaper new cars on the market today.
For a brand that seems uninterested in the very concept of wrestling, Dodge certainly is good at cutting cheap heat heel promos. Surprisingly, it didn’t mention how bad your favorite sports team is and comment on how ugly the people of your hometown are. This isn’t legit Paul Heyman/Vicki Guerrero heat. This is X-Pac heat.
Let me be frank: WWE Raw is, more often than not, a terrible show. Despite being the most widely watched of all wrestling shows on television, Raw was named wrestling’s Worst Television Show in the 2014 Wrestling Observer Newsletter Awards. It also hasn’t been voted the best weekly wrestling show on television in 10 years. This is not by accident.
On its worst weeks, Raw is a show that I would be embarrassed to watch by myself, never mind in the presence of someone I love who could potentially judge me for the awfulness of the content. The laundry list of Raw’s problems is a lengthy one, and it includes everything from terrible writing and atrocious acting to inexplicable sexist and racist undertones. If there is a rare good episode of Raw, you can practically guarantee that the next two shows (or more) will be commensurately awful. It’s basically The Walking Dead without people spoiling everything for you on Facebook.
This isn’t to say that I’m not a fan of professional wrestling. Quite the opposite. I love professional wrestling. I feel no shame in saying that, and I’m thrilled to share my love of it with people who may suffer from the common misconception that people who like wrestling are idiots who also don’t understand that it’s fake (yes, I know the outcomes are predetermined, shut up).
In the last several months, I have even successfully converted my lady love into a full-fledged wrestling fan with a steady stream of CM Punk matches and episodes of NXT and Lucha Underground. In such a short time, she’s become enough of a smark that she can readily recognize that John Cena is boring and Finn Bálor is amazing. That Finn Bálor is “so hot oh my god his ABS” certainly doesn’t hurt her assessment.
— Finn Bálor (@wwebalor) December 12, 2014
Like I said: AAAAABBBBBSS!
I believe that, apart from Fergal Devitt’s amazing abs, a big reason for her growing to like wrestling boils down to unequivocally refusing to subject her to the three-hour quagmire that is Raw (I don’t think she’d survive two hours of Michael Cole/John Layfield on commentary, to be honest). So why defend the show? Simple: Raw might be a train wreck of a magnitude not dissimilar to that of The Bachelor, but the implicit generalization that anyone who happens to like it must also therefore live in a trailer and eat canned beans is the kind of low-hanging fruit that even the laziest comedians tend to avoid. That it comes in this instance from a brand that doesn’t do anything to engender itself to a sophisticated crowd whatsoever is downright idiotic.
This past summer, Dodge teamed up with Mötley Crüe to sponsor their All Bad Things Must Come to an End tour. This partnership resulted in ads for the Challenger and Charger being scored with the song “Kickstart My Heart” and Dodge cars appearing at Crüe concerts all around America.
“Whenever I talk to people about Mötley Crüe, the common thread is how cool and relevant the band remains even after 33 years,” said Dodge Brand President and CEO Tim Kuniskis in a statement announcing the pairing. “This irreverent ‘staying power’ resonates deeply with the Dodge brand as we turn the corner on our 100 year anniversary. What better way to celebrate the band’s final tour and the 25th anniversary of ‘Kickstart My Heart’ than to do it together?”
Here’s some fun trivia: the song “Kickstart My Heart” was written by Nikki Sixx after he was almost killed by a drug overdose. In fact, the eponymous refrain refers to a paramedic literally reviving Sixx from the brink of death after he injected himself with a lethal dose of heroin. WHAT BETTER WAY TO SELL YOU A DODGE!
While I’m on the subject, Crüe’s most visible member—drummer Tommy Lee—is probably most famous for the visibility of his member in a sex tape he made with former wife Pamela Anderson. Lee also went to prison after viciously beating Anderson in 1998, probably because he’s such a delightful human being. HOW COOL AND RELEVANT!
Also, singer Vince Neil did 15 days in jail for killing one man and severely injuring two others in a 1984 drunk driving accident, and he clearly learned his lesson when he was arrested on suspicion of DUI in 2007 and plead guilty to drunk driving in 2010 (he got 15 days for that one, too, only that time he managed not to ruin anyone’s life). STAYING POWER!
What’s the point? (Aside from the clear and obvious fact that the majority of the guys in Mötley Crüe are a bunch of turds.) If Dodge was that concerned about assuming some kind of moral high-ground when it comes to its affiliations, it wouldn’t have sponsored the tour of a band whose entire ethos objectifies woman and promotes hard partying and whose members are former drug addicts, wife-beaters, and unrepentant drunk-drivers/people-killers.
This summer, my girlfriend and I found ourselves at one of these Mötley Crüe shows (in our defense, Alice Cooper was the opener). Whatever cushy picture Dodge has for its “target” with the Challenger and Charger, I can tell you with full confidence that the assembled masses at the Riverbend Music Center were decidedly not it. Was Dodge too proud to slap its logo on the banner that hung over the concession area and, by extension, the unfortunate gentleman puking up his half-case of Natty Light on the asphalt in front of it? Was Tommy Lee’s solo career the sad mid-life-cry-for-help of a really gross dude?
This month, Dodge happily plunked down $9 million to waste 60 seconds of airtime during the Super Bowl with a bunch of cackling old people. If the admission in so doing is that the NFL’s fanbase isn’t “trashy,” then Dodge might do well to spend an afternoon in the stands at a Bengals game. If the belief is that the NFL is a vastly more upstanding and dignified corporation than the WWE, Dodge’s ad execs might want to run a Google search for “NFL CTE denial” and “NFL domestic abuse” and “Washington Redskins.”
It’s hard to quantify how many people who worship at the blood-stained altar of the NFL or watch The Bachelor or listen to Mötley Crüe unironically could fall into the tenuously defined categories of “poor” or “trashy.” Generally, these groups are not summarized by the type of content they enjoy. Once-niche mediums such as heavy metal, football, video games, and comic books have been granted social acceptance as the years have gone on, yet wrestling fans are still stigmatized as poor, trailer-dwelling non-contributors to society and ignorant man-children.
Dodge feels comfortable with that sweeping generalization when it comes to Raw and wrestling fans because, hey, it’s wrestling and where are your teeth, ya hick. Whatever. Refusing the opportunity to showcase your mediocre compact sedan in front of a massive audience because you’re worried that “trashy” people are going to wind up driving Darts just means Dodge sucks at marketing and doesn’t understand that “trashy” and “poor” people might even like things that aren’t perceived as being for “trashy” and “poor” people.
Do you think Honda would have the same objections when it comes to advertising the Civic during Raw? It’s pretty unlikely, and that’s probably one of the reasons that Honda sells four times more Civics than Dodge does Darts. Comparing compact cars in wrestling terms, Honda is a big-time promotion that sells out Madison Square Garden, and Dodge is running a territory that performs free shows in gyms.
Whether Raw is a poorly-booked, badly-written show (and it is) is largely irrelevant when it comes to advertising because it is a poorly-booked, badly-written show seen by 4 million people every week. Dodge not wanting to advertise on BIG TIME WRASSLIN because it is beneath them is an estimation of incredibly idiotic proportions that looks even dumber when you can routinely find Dodge’s ads airing during the dumpster fire that is The Bachelor or during games presided over by a man who thinks knocking a woman unconscious is a less-punishable offense than smoking pot.
If you’re a wrestling fan, here’s some advice: if you love wrestling and hate being treated like an idiot, watch New Japan Pro Wrestling instead because it’s way, way better. If you need an affordable compact car and don’t like being insulted, buy a Mazda3 instead because it’s way, way better.
Source: Wrestling Observer (H/T: Inquistr)
- Kyle JohnsonEditor
Kyle S. Johnson lives in Cincinnati, a city known by many as "the Cincinnati of Southwest Ohio." He enjoys professional wrestling, Halloween, and also other things. He has been writing for a while, and he plans to continue to write well into the future. See more articles by Kyle.