Mercedes-Benz is paying homage to an American icon with its Super Bowl commercial titled “Easy Driver,” starring Peter Fonda.
If the name sounds familiar, it’s because it’s a take on the 1969 film Easy Rider, in which Fonda played a non-conformist biker named Wyatt (nicknamed Captain America for the stars and stripes painted on his helmet and motorcycle fuel tank, and the flag on his leather jacket) travelling across the country in pursuit of understanding the American dream. Fonda also co-wrote and produced the film along with his co-star, the late Dennis Hopper (who directed the film).
The only other constant from the 1969 film is the theme song Born to be Wild, written by Oshawa, Ontario’s Dennis Edmonton and performed by Canadian band Steppenwolf (the core of which was also from Oshawa). Fonda’s iconic American-themed chopper has been replaced by a Mercedes-AMG GT Roadster, in plain grey.
“Times have changed, and not just for Peter Fonda,” says Dr Jens Thiemer, Vice President Marketing Mercedes-Benz Cars. “Easy Driver aims to show that intensive feeling of freedom is absolutely compatible with our GT Roadster, without losing any of the fascination of those earlier days.”
The new short film is directed by The Coen Brothers (writers/directors of Fargo, The Big Lebowski and No Country for Old Men, among many others).
The film starts with a group of hardcore bikers, still clinging to the old dream of freedom on two wheels, doing what stereotypical outlaw bikers do — hanging out and engaging in feats of strength in a Route 66 bar adorned with images of Fonda’s legendary Captain America. while Born to be Wild plays repeatedly on the jukebox.
Trouble seems ready to boil over when they discover their bikes are being blocked by some fancy Mercedes sports car, but then the driver appears — Fonda — who demonstrates that the world of 1969 has passed but his desire to be one with the open road in search of the “American Dream” is still strong, thanks to the car’s open air abilities and the “heavy metal thunder” emanating from the biturbo 4.0-litre V-8.
The idea and script was conceptualized by Mercedes-Benz’s European agency Antoni, and realized in cooperation with North America’s agency, Merkley and Partners. The Coens were brought on board and added significant contributions to the original script (in addition to their knack for parody). Filming was done outside Los Angeles.
“The film is a really successful media kick-off into our 50th company anniversary,” said Tobias Moers, Chairman of the Board of Management of Mercedes-AMG GmbH. “Freedom and adventure are the perfect fit for a car that provides the most intensive way ever to experience true Driving Performance.”