This is a car commercial inspired by epic themes found in Herman Melville’s 1851 classic “Moby Dick.” Told by a tormented Alaska tow truck driver, played by David Florek, the modern-day Ahab is fraught with frustration, yearning and regret over the car that kept escaping his grasp, even in an arctic blizzard. Created by San Francisco ad agency Venables Bell & Partners, the commercial spins an overblown account of trying to hook the wily Audi Quattro. Though exaggerated to mythic proportions, the tale of the tow truck driver versus the Audi Quattro is not anything like the story of Ahab’s obsessive and vengeful pursuit of Moby Dick, the great white whale that chewed off his leg and ultimately destroyed his Pequod ship and him along with it. But the comparison makes a wonderful yarn, especially when you consider that the commercial is really about Audi Quattro’s four-wheel drive system — which would really be boring if the narrator told it straight.
Car emblems have existed almost from the inception of automobiles. Early cars had radiator caps that rested on top of the hood. At least one automaker got the idea of turning the cap into a hood ornament. Soon every automaker had an emblem or mascot adorning the hood of their car. In addition to giving the vehicle a decorative flourish, the emblem served as a brand identifier. Early carmakers based their designs on everything from national flags, family crests, coat of arms, constellation of stars, and animals that embodied the traits they admired. Today with the profile of cars looking so much alike, the emblem is often the only way we can identify the maker. See if you can recognize these. (Answers on the next page.)