Gorman Explores the Mystery of Used-Car Sales

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Tue, 02/18/2014 - 11:29 -- Nick Dager

Accomplice Media director Jeff GormanIn a new campaign for Boston car dealer Herb Chambers and New York agency DeVito/Verde, Accomplice Media director Jeff Gorman explores some of the more unusual reasons people may have for returning a pre-owned car.

Small Trunk opens on a man dragging a body to a car parked on a darkened suburban driveway. The man tries to stuff the body into the trunk, but parts keep flopping out, first a leg, then a hand, then a head. As the man continues to grunt and strain, the voice-over explains that a purchaser of a pre-owned car from Herb Chambers can return it within five days for a full refund “no questions asked.”

Gorman, whose many awards for comedic advertising include a Palme D’Or at Cannes, says that the strength of the ad lies in its simplicity. “The idea that you can bring a car back because the trunk is too small to fit a body is pure genius,” he says. “The trick was not to over-think it, but rather to streamline it and to realize it in a way that was true to the concept.”

The fact that the protagonist appears to be an ordinary suburbanite, rather than a mob hit man, adds to the gruesome humor. “We put him in a suit and tie,” Gorman says. “The dead guy could be a business partner…you just don’t know.”

A second spot focuses on a man who can’t convince his shaggy dog to hop in the back seat of his newly purchased, pre-owned Honda. That too is an acceptable reason to take the car back to the lot.

A third spot promotes Herb Chambers’ Mercedes dealership. It reverses the age-old father-son ritual of asking for the keys to the car. In this instance, it’s the son’s Mercedes Benz CLA and it’s dad who has to agree to be back before midnight and not to “do anything stupid.” 

Gorman directs each spot with a light touch. The acting is simple, the comedy presented in a deadpan manner with minimal flourish. “We didn’t want them to be overly broad,” Gorman explains. “I wanted them to feel real and for the humor to come out of the concept.”


Titles: Small Trunk, Bad Dog, Borrow

Client: Herb Chambers Automotive

Agency: DeVito/Verde, New York. Sal DeVito, executive creative director; Bob Fremgen and John DeVito, writers (Borrow); Jason Rogers, art director (Borrow); Rich Ostroff, writer (Small Trunk, Bad Dog); Mike Vitiello, art director (Small Trunk, Bad Dog); Karen Tomlin, senior producer; Andy Brief, account supervisor.

Production: Accomplice Media. Jeff Gorman, director; Mel Gragido, Jeff Snyder executive producers; Kourtney Gleason, producer.

Accomplice Media http://www.accomplice-media.com/