In order to produce the wittiest, flashiest, most memorable commercial at the Super Bowl each year, advertisers often use a celebrity’s starpower to boost a 30-second spot. Already, Hyundai has cast emphatic weirdos the Flaming Lips to soundtrack and appear in their “Epic Playdate” ad, and Volkswagen somewhat controversially partnered with reggae legend Jimmy Cliff for “Sunny Side.” And now Mercedes-Benz places Grammy-winning singer Usher, Oscar-winning actor Willem Dafoe, and boner-winning model Kate Upton at the heart of its Faustian 2013 campaign, “Soul.”
The conceit is as classic as Robert Johnson’s blues: After spotting a billboard for Mercedes-Benz’ new CLA-Class, a young man (played by Sebastian Beacon) is offered a deal with the devil (Dafoe). If he agrees, he gets the car, which brings fame, the Sports Illustrated swimsuit model, and a dance-off with Usher. It’s all very enticing until the camera pans down to the devil’s hand clutching a rococo fountain pen and we see it: Dafoe’s shockingly long, filed-to-a-point man-nails. The ad comes to a close (won’t spoil it here) leaving the audience with the enduring image of the Shadow of the Vampire actor’s super gross manicure. Wonder how many luxury sedans the car company hopes to move with that one.