Commercials are like cockroaches: ubiquitous, nearly indestructible, and crunchy, with a strong, nutty flavor. And despite how quickly I attempt to click the Skip Ads button, commercials still fight their way into my awareness in many places I watch videos online, as we all do. One particular class of commercials that seems to appear more than most is automotive-related in that it is for the car rental company Hertz. They’re a series of commercials with legendary NFL quarterback Tom Brady, and the conceit is that he’s on some sort of rental car-focused talk show. For whatever reason, these commercials grate on me in a deep, profound way, and I finally realized that the only way to deal with the stabbing pains of annoyance I feel when one of these miserable 15 seconds of irritant assaults me, turning even light and sound into my foes, is to kvetch about them to you, here, publicly. So let’s get to it. Because there’s something about these ads that makes me feel more empty than any ad for a rental car company should.
If you’re somehow not familiar with these commercials, allow me to congratulate you on your luck and privilege while simultaneously providing you the means to shatter your happy walls of ignorance, if you just click play below.
Holy crap, there are only two of these so far? I could have sworn they made like 1,600 of these things. Okay, well, that’s good news! Maybe we can put a stop to these before they proliferate!
Also, I’m sorry for putting you through this, but I feel it’s the only way. This first one is the more mild of these ads, I think:
Okay, the one above I guess sets up the whole insipid premise: Hertz, a car rental company, has inexplicably decided to produce a talk show, and hired some sort of Oprah/Wendy Williams-type of host to helm it. The actress here plays her role very well, and I don’t blame her, or even Tom Brady, for the nightmare that these spots have become. I think the reason is more elusive.
In this first clip, they’re trying to make it seem like Brady is revealing something deeply confessional? And somehow he analogizes it to renting a car and driving off, because Tom Brady, like any of us when we fantasize, likes to keep our expectations nice and low, because that’s what fantasy is all about, right? If we talk about just having a car and going, then the fantasy is ruined because now we have to fantasize about getting it registered and insured and all that.
Then it turns into one of those Oprah giveaway things and there’s a wheel and oh it’s all just a painful way to tell you Hertz rents EVs, I guess.
This other one is worse, somehow:
What’s this about? It’s supposed to be like one of those paternity test talk show segments? Is that what’s going on here? But instead they’ve confirmed Tom is renting a Shelby Mustang?
Why do I hate these ads so much? Objectively, they shouldn’t bother me so. They’re just dumb commercials; Hertz wants people to know they rent EVs and Shelby Mustangs. Fine. Fantastic. Good for you, Hertz. But this conceit of the fake talk show – it’s all so cloying and grating and the more you scrutinize it, the worse it gets. If we’re supposed to believe these are clips from the Hertz Let’s Go Show, then how are we not supposed to consider what this banal show would be about?
Ugh, and reading what Hertz writes about these things in their press release just makes it all so much worse:
“In the campaign’s hero spot, the five-time Super Bowl MVP finds himself baring his soul to Orji on the show, ultimately winning a ‘Let’s Go moment’ in a Hertz electric vehicle (EV) rental. Brady and Orji recreate multiple iconic daytime talk show moments in the new series while highlighting Hertz’s diverse vehicle options – including its growing EV fleet – Hertz Gold Plus Rewards loyalty program, partnerships, global footprint and more. “
Oh god it looks like they’re planning on more of these:
“The Hertz. Let’s Go! campaign has effectively shined a spotlight on our fast and seamless service, and innovative vehicle offerings, including our EV rentals,” said Wayne Davis, Hertz’s chief marketing officer. “Tom Brady has been such an authentic and enthusiastic partner for Hertz and this campaign, that we mutually decided to extend our partnership through 2024. We can’t wait for people to engage with the next phase of the campaign as Tom and Yvonne bring their talent and humor to showcase the many elements that make renting from Hertz a great way to travel and create memories.”
There’s a “next phase” of this vacuous shit? Where’s my vomit bucket? Wait, that’s my chili bucket. Dammit. Now look what they’ve made me do.
[Ed Note: I can neither confirm nor deny that this post is acting as therapy for Jason. -DT].
Okay, let’s get back to the big question: why do these ads bother me so? They really shouldn’t. They’re commercials, they’re not supposed to be art, they’re here to sell stuff. And yet, not all commercials feel as painful as these do. I think maybe the whole talk show premise just drives home that they’re really about almost nothing, and dressing up almost nothing in something as loud and involved as a talk show just makes it all the more clear and painful.
Is anyone actually amused by these? Is anyone delighted thinking “oh, hey, Tom Brady is on a talk show! About renting cars! I’m chuckling because I myself have rented cars, and viewed talk shows!” No. Nobody is thinking that. Somehow these ads just manage to cheapen the entire human experience and that doesn’t make me want to rent car.
Were Hertz ads always this bad? Let’s see:
Shit. OJ, huh? That didn’t age well.
At least in their really old, old ads they just dropped people into moving cars:
I’ll be honest, I’m still not entirely sure why I’m struggling with these ads so much. I know that I’m going to fling my laptop, frisbee-like, through a window if I have to sit through one again, but I still don’t think I’ve locked onto just why it is, or what it is about these ads specifically that affect me so. I’m happy to listen to your advice in the comments, unless it’s that I should seek out my clergyperson, because they won’t return my calls anymore just because I should “know better” than to do what I did last time as a member of “society.” Pfft.