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.
Apple identifies itself with an apple; McDonald’s with its golden arches, and Nike with its swoosh. Does Starbucks’ green mermaid enjoy the same graphic brand recognition without accompaniment of its name?
In unveiling its new no-name logo yesterday, Howard Schultz, Starbucks’ CEO, explained that the 40-year-old company had moved away from its core coffee offerings and the new logo was “more suitable” for the future of its business. Signaling that the company has broadened its branded product line by dropping the word “Coffee” from its identity makes sense, but why drop “Starbucks” too?