May 10, 2005

Speaking of big ugly animals...

Got another commercial that gives me the heeby-jeebies. It's for Express Oil Change, a regional quick-oil-change outfit. They're good folks--we usually take our cars there, and it's generally pleasant. (They used to be more conscientious, though.) Anyway, they generally have pretty innocuous commercials. For a while there, former Miss Alabama and Miss America Heather Whitestone was a spokesqueen for them, although I never quite understood why. But, she's pretty, so who cares.

But here lately, there's something else ENTIRELY.

A rat.

Not a little rat, like Stewart Little, but a gigantic, the-size-of-a-small-child white rat. Comes tooling down the road hanging his head out the driver's window of a full-size car, pulls into the Express Oil Change, drives into the bay, nods pleasantly to the attendant, hops out dressed in a red sweater and khakis, looks carefully at oil being drained, is a big helper and hands a guy a wrench, nods and agrees some more with another guy. And the entire time, not a single person seems to have a moment where he says to himself, "HOLY MOTHER OF EARL, IT'S A GIANT WHITE RAT DRIVING A CAR!"

I mean, such things around here are USUALLY enough to get the offending rodent beaten to death with a shovel or a bad case of lead poisoning from the wrong end of a 12 gauge, but all the oil change guys are just blithely acquiescing to the demands of their giant rodent overlord.

And I just have to ask myself, "HuhWHAT?!"

It's a puppet rat, and not a particularly cute one like Stewart Little (it actually looks more like a possum--which might have some ironic appeal since possums are usually the ones on the bad end of anything dealing with cars), and he's not handled particularly well by the puppeteers or production company or whoever, and he doesn't talk in a cute cartoon voice like a Muppet--he's just a big derned mute rat.


What does this say about Express Oil Change?

That regular car maintenance will turn you into a yellow-toothed plague-carrier? Is it supposed to be a sly pop-culture reference to the late Ed"Big Daddy" Roth's immortal "Rat Fink" character?

Or is there someone so smart out there they've managed to hoodwink a client with some storyboard idea about a furry fun character--you know, like Mickey Mouse--who can drive--you know, like Fozzy Bear, or that cute gecko--and he has to get his oil changed, because that's what oil change places do, and, and...

Boy, it's a stupid commercial.

And darned disturbing at 5 a.m.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at May 10, 2005 01:04 PM

For some reason that makes me think of Jerry Clower talking about going to a Rat-Killin'

Speaking of which, have you ever heard the phrase "I wouldn't take him/her to a rat-killin'?

Posted by: DaveH at May 10, 2005 01:27 PM

Having grown up in Montgomery, I'm used to the sight of giant rats driving around, and hanging out in bars, and filibustering. Another good place to see them is around the law school in Tuscaloosa.

Posted by: skillzy at May 10, 2005 01:33 PM

Not lately, Dave, but it's a good one to dust off and use.

Skillzy, I guess that explains why everyone in the oil change place is afraid to do something about the varmint. Too much liability.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at May 10, 2005 01:58 PM

Your description makes me think of the Rodents of Unusual Size from The Princess Bride. Definitely not creatures you want selling anything for you.

Posted by: Jordana at May 10, 2005 02:37 PM

That's about the right size, although standing on two legs, rather than four. And really not scary so much, because they aren't eating anyone.


Posted by: Terry Oglesby at May 10, 2005 02:41 PM

I saw that spot last night and kept waiting for the pay off. "Why to they have a rat in an Express Lube commercial?" Of course it never came.

If I was Express Lube, I wouldn't be so quick to sent the check to ad agency who thought this deal up.

Posted by: El at May 10, 2005 03:45 PM

Oops--did I mess up the name? I sure thought it was Express Oil Change.

UPDATE: Whew. It is EOC. And I noticed last night that there's a little pop-rap-country ballad jingle that goes along with the action. One wonders if this is supposed to be the disembodied voice of the giant rat...

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at May 10, 2005 04:04 PM

I couldn't stop laughing. I thought the spot was hilariously funny and original. It reminded me of the homemade videos I used to make as a kid. But then again, I've always been a little "rat-tled."

Posted by: Mike at May 16, 2005 09:50 AM

Dare we ask about those videos!?

I will say that it has potential, but I sure wish they had done a better job of explaining their spokesupial beforehand. It would make a bit better sense. And I still say they should have little Otis toys for sale at all the stores.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at May 16, 2005 10:08 AM

A friend and I used to make music videos with a couple of coconut heads that were gifts from Hawaii. We had them horseback riding, watching television and generally being silly. We used a jacket to drape over our arms to make them look like they were actually moving.I guess this commercial just took me back.

Posted by: Mike at May 16, 2005 04:54 PM

I say it's time to dust off those videos and put them on the Internet!

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at May 17, 2005 08:22 AM