John Oliver Puts Local Car Dealership in a Pickle With a Strange Car Ad Script

In a pickle literally, not figuratively. While off this week, a short segment of Last Week Tonight debuted on Sunday, showing John Oliver’s take on a local car commercial. After noticing a not-so-subtle similarity between most local car ads, he called upon dealerships to take a free script and shoot it, verbatim. And one dealership in Michigan delivered.

John Oliver’s original remarks on local car dealership advertisements

John Oliver noticed an odd trend with local used car dealership advertisements: all of them had the same script. And despite their better judgment, all of them had to do with pickles and heart attacks. It’s an original premise, looking to get the viewer’s attention without screaming “0% APR” and “low credit, no credit, no problem.” Unless, of course, everyone uses the same format.

Turns out, local car dealerships all fell in love with the absurdity of the “in a pickle” script, that they swarmed them. They all bought the script, and a full-sized pickle costume, and started shouting at the camera that their doctor ordered them to take it down a notch.

John Oliver called out these repetitive car ads in an earlier episode of Last Week Tonight, challenging local dealerships to take his script, a dramatic piece of love and automobiles, and film it. That’s when Zumbrota Ford of Michigan stepped up to bat.

How Zumbrota Ford took John Oliver’s psycho-drama script and ran with it

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The salespeople at Zumbrota Ford were sent an envelope containing a script they’d never read. All they could do was film it, and if they did, they’d be the only dealership in America allowed to air the ad. It would be a true original, one of a kind, and it went against most of the traditional, corny used car ads.

Rather than being loud and brash, at first, it was quiet. The first line was “storm’s coming any minute now” and the second line was “I want a divorce.” It spirals into a marital dispute, all revolving around the unnecessary purchase of an AWD minivan. But the dark themes are whisked away when the dealership’s owner, Steve Johnson, dressed as a pickle once again.

John Oliver enjoyed the ad so much, which went above and beyond what the eccentric host could’ve hoped for. The extra shot of the oversized minivan, or the clear skies on what’s supposed to be a rainy day. All the little details that set this ad apart. And while this commercial is all fun and strange, ads like this are instrumental to the success of a local car dealer.

Why do local car dealerships have such wierd ads anyways?

Zumbrota Ford Local Car Dealership In A Pickle Commercial
Zumbrota Ford In A Pickle Commercial | Zumbrota Ford

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Because nobody thinks about local car ads much, the commercials have to stick out like a sore thumb, for better or worse. They also have to produce ads constantly, ensuring that viewers remember their advertisements. But nobody can write the number of advertisements that a local car dealership needs by themselves. That’s why these dealerships rely on agencies, who sell scripts to whoever is interested.

This lead to the repetition, with an agency selling the same script over and over. And John Oliver’s scheme to create one original ad went off without a hitch. Not only that, but the new Zumbrota ad has already received over two million views. In other words, this was all an advertising scheme, and you fell for it. Hook, line, and sinker.

So now you have experienced first-hand exactly what these small, local car dealerships want you to experience. The name Zumbrota Ford will likely never exit your subconscious mind. Nor will you forget the man who dressed as a pickle for John Oliver. These ads worked exactly as they were supposed to, and put you in a bit of a pickle.

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