By: Sydney Wade
As the semester is coming to a close, I began to reflect on the group of readings that I found the most interesting and landed upon the “Deals With the Devil” stories. What I enjoyed most about this section was the similar techniques each story incorporated to spook the reader including the vivid description of the devil himself and how he interacted with each character. I also enjoyed the intersection of religion in these stories. Although I am not extremely religious, I still found it frightening that these characters crossed the devil’s path in some way and that the devil wielded so much power over them.
I recently came across a 2013 Super Bowl commercial for Mercedes Benz that also deals with the devil. As a communication studies major, I often pause to watch commercials and watch for the different techniques the companies utilize in their advertising to attract the attention of the viewer. So, I was surprised when this particular ad connected directly to our class.
The commercial itself uses the same techniques as the devil readings we covered even though it is a part of the media world! For example, the devil is dressed in a black suit, has talon like finger nails, burning eyes, and a deep/sinister voice. This portrayal is similar to that of the devil in “Man in the Black Suit” who terrorizes Gary while he is out fishing by himself.
Additionally, the man in the commercial is offered a deal from the devil. If the man accepts the deal, the devil promises him a life of luxury including fame, women, and a beautiful car. This is similar to both Theophilus from “The Miracle of Theophilus” and Johnny from “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” because they are both offered riches from the devil and subsequently take the deal. Unlike Theophilus and Johnny, the character in the commercial rejects the devil’s contract after seeing how affordable the car is on its own.
After the man rejects the offer, the devil vanishes into thin air, leaving behind a cloud of fire and dust. I thought this was most similar to the “Man in the Black Suit” reading. When Gary and his father return to the clearing, the devil is nowhere to be found, but the grass seems burned indicating that the devil had in fact been there.
Even though the aim of the Mercedes commercial is to sell cars and shape the brand’s image, it was interesting to see the distinct similarities to the pieces of literature we have covered. I also enjoyed how the commercial was successful in telling a type of horror story in only about two minutes. Here is a second clip that discusses why the marketing campaign decided to focus the ad around making a deal with the devil in exchange for something you desire.