The Devil on TV

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.

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7 thoughts on “The Devil on TV

  1. I saw the commercial after we did those readings too, and I was originally debating writing a blog about it, so I’m glad someone did. But you are absolutely right that the commercial pulls from a lot of general stereotypes and ideas about the devil. But this time the devil can’t entice or chase the main guy down, so I wonder if it really is the devil. He just kind of popped up, instead of being invited, but maybe desire invites the devil instead.

  2. When I first saw this commercial, I also thought it was funny that I was able to relate to it in the sense that we studied the devil in class. I think that this was a very good marketing strategy because it showed the viewer that the car is cheap enough that the buyer doesn’t have to “sell his soul” to get a nice car. The devil in the commercial was characterized by the stereotypical traits of the devil that we saw in the readings in class. Personally, I love when I find things outside of the classroom that have to do with something I am learning.

  3. I’ve never seen this commercial but this made me think of the comment I just made in the previous post about how I’ve done research before and how people have made deals with the devil for fame and for money

  4. I saw this commercial! I totally agree with Alana, they do a good job of characterizing the Devil by using very recognizable traits from lore. I enjoy this commercial every time I see it, and I think it does an excellent job of selling cars. Do you know of any other commercials that use the Devil like this?

  5. I had never seen this commercial before but it’s interesting that you made the connection between this and “Man in the Black Suit.” If I had only watched the beginning of the video, I don’t think I would’ve been able to point out that he was supposed to play the role of the devil but at the end when he disappears and black smoke is left, that’s when it becomes obvious. That’s also really cool to look at how he didn’t take the deal with the devil because I feel like this wouldn’t normally be the case. I wonder if any other things in our daily life incorporate the devil like this? Or if there are any more advertisements like this?

  6. I have seen this commercial multiple times, knew it was the devil but just never made the connection back to class. I think it is great that our coursework is so readily applicable to real life situations (and slightly scary given the class topic). I also believe that this was a brilliant commercial from a marketing/advertising standpoint just because you remembered it so well and you shared it with multiple other people. I am interested in knowing if usage of the devil in commercials draws in more attention audiences just because everyone is so familiar with the devil.

  7. I’m trying to picture this commercial, am having a tough time remember it. I would have to agree that Deals with the Devil was also my favorite topic because this was the most prevalent theme I was able to capture prior to taking this class. I think this a very interesting interpretation of this commercial, and am curious why a company would want to do this. I suppose it is is trying to use the idea that “the monster is a kind of desire”

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