May 17, 2005

Otis Speaks!

Yes, yet another meaningless critique of a minor regional television spot featuring a large non-human mammal. The Express Oil Change, Giant Not-A-Rat-But-A-Possum campaign has a new commercial! Which I think is better, but only because we are told the name of the beast is Otis, and we get a little information from him about why he takes his car to Express Oil.

Otis (whose name we knew beforehand only by a very deliberate search on the Internet through various ad biz sites and some lucky guessing) has a nice little conversation with one of the technicians about car care and bumps knuckles like the best buds they are. Otis has a very mild, Midwestern tone to his voice--which means the weird rap song of the other commercial "I'm Gonna Get My Oil Changed (Today)" is not intended to be Otis singing.

Anyway, this seems like it would have been a better commercial to have debuted the character, mainly because we at least get to hear his name, and that he can talk. Still, however, there is no backstory about the horrifying industrial accident that transformed a mild-mannered chemical plant worker into a giant marsupial, nor why it was determined that a possum is the best choice for clutter-breakthrough.

AND, probably worst of all, there is absolutely no leverage for the character. The corporate website has no mention of it, and there are no stuffed Oti (with bendable prehensile tail and opposable toe thumbs) in the customer waiting area for little kids to beg for--PLEASE MOM TAKE THE CAR TO EXPRESS OIL CHANGE SO I CAN GET AN OTIS!--no guys dressed in Otis costumes standing on the roadside beckoning travellers to come get their oil changed, no interviews on local television, no "Meet Otis Day" at the grocery store. Hey, if you're going to do something, do it right. Swing for the fences, you know?

I do hope in future commercials we find that there is a Mrs. Otis, and that they have a big litter of babies, and that Otis brings in the car one day and the babies are all hanging by their tails from one of those clothes rods you hang across the back seat. That would be pretty cool. Although, given the climate of the times, some moron would probably complain that the babies weren't buckled into an approved child safety seat.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at May 17, 2005 08:56 AM

Well, I'm in a group called Simply Weasels and we're the music in the Otis Ad. Express Oil Change's ad agency was looking for a song about oil and found our song, "Oil" on iTunes. They had us record different words to the song and before we knew it, our song was on a TV commercial. We're a local garage band in Kansas City, so although it doesn't sound like it, the singer is indeed a mild Midwesterner! In addition to the payment for the Master User and Sync licenses, we asked for (and got) autographed photos of Otis....and there's a bio on him the back. I will put a copy of it on our website, , as soon as possible and our original song "Oil" can be heard at CD Baby from our Cruise Control CD at .
We've also been lucky enough to have "Oil", "Loose Wheel" and "Cruise Control" played on the Car Talk show on National Public Radio. -Norb

Posted by: Norb Stracker at May 21, 2005 10:41 PM

Well, I'll be. You know, it sure is a small world. Congratulations to you and the rest of the Simply Weasels on the hookup, Norb, although I think instead of an autographed copy of a photo of Otis (along with the other things), you should have held out for a stuffed Otis toy! I got to thinking about it the other night--they could offer a plump version and a flat version...

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at May 23, 2005 08:22 AM