We love villains. We love Danny Trejo. Yes, his head ended up on top of an exploding turtle in “Breaking Bad,” but don’t count that against Machete. He’s still someone you wouldn’t want to cross. In other words, a perfect car dealer.
FCA’s Dodge division, perhaps playing on the idea that the visit to the dealership is about as anxiety-producing as double-crossing a cartel, crafted a Spanish-language campaign that everyone will relate to, and will go out of their way to translate, even as they go out of their way to avoid the antagonist.
Dodge needs the mojo. The Hispanic market is growing along with the population, bi-lingual or otherwise, and most automakers' sector marketing spend against that population is tracking its growth. Hispanic consumers are now over 18% of the U.S. population. The brand is challenging Honda and Toyota, two favorites among Hispanic consumers, and the automaker’s work with Trejo shows it is taking a unique tack that aligns well with the bad-boy image it has cultivated for itself. The Dodge Brothers it ain’t.
The effort, via Lopez Negrete Communications, puts the heavy from “Machete” (as well as “From Dusk Till Dawn,” and “Once Upon a Time in Mexico”) in three Spanish-language commercials for the Dodge Challenger, Dodge Charger and Dodge Dart: Trejo as car dealer, with a twist: he’s a twisted car dealer.
Packing a “Te Pondrá A Prueba” (“It’ll Test You”) message, the 60-second launch spot had a nice young guy facing Trejo, who is in his best snakeskin-clad killer get-up, intimidation factor turned up to 11. They sit at a negotiating table in what could be a dank back room, no light save for the red, blinking signals from a nearby cherry-top, siren whining.
It could be a drug deal, as Trejo argues terms with the guy and the lights flicker. We think it is, in fact, a nefarious transfer of funds, until we pull back to see a repair guy on a ladder, fixing a fluorescent ballast. Up come the lights and….it’s a dealership! Dodge vehicles sparkle under the lights and the guy — a potential customer — mulls the features of the 2015 Dodge Dart, and signs the contract. Probably a good idea, since Trejo, reaching for a pen, opens the wrong side of his jacket by accident, revealing an assortment of knives. Heh, heh.
In another spot, Trejo lets someone test drive the 2015 Dodge Charger. He wants to tout the sunroof, but the customer ignores him. He finally tells the customer to stop the car in front of a warehouse. Trejo goes in, then exits by defenestration, through a second-floor window. Good thing the sunroof was open.
The third spot touts the trunk space in the Dodge Challenger, and also the BeatsAudio system. The thing being put in the trunk? Yeah, you got it. The test-drive customer wonders what the thumping noise is and Trejo responds by raising the volume of the BeatsAudio sound system. The customer loves the package, says “yes” to the deal, and we ultimately learn that, no, Trejo wasn't trying to whack someone. He just likes golfing and bowling. There was so much room in the trunk that even all that gear had space to slide around.