An aerial shot shows a car driving on a picturesque road next to the Pacific Ocean. A soothing voice says, “This is not a car. This is you,” as the sound of a violin rises in a crescendo. It would be a perfect commercial for an upscale sports car, except it is not. Instead, it a spoof advertisement for a used 1996 Honda Accord that went viral over the last two weeks.
Max Lanman ’10 created the video to sell his fiancee’s 21-year old car nicknamed “Greenie.” The video gained more than five million views in the 11 days since it was posted on YouTube. Lanman initially shared the video on Reddit, where it got 112,000 upvotes and currently has more than 4,000 comments. The ad’s tagline is “Luxury is a state of mind.”
“I think he had hopes that it would get some traction, but this far exceeded anything we ever expected,” said Lanman’s brother, Lambie Lanman ’18. The older Lanman could not be reached for comment.
Lambie Lanman told the News that his brother decided to shoot the ad to promote an eBay auction and assist in selling the car his fiancee “had for her whole life.”
The starting auction price for the car, which has done more than 141,000 miles, was $499.
“He just came up with this idea to shoot a spoof ad for this crappy car and make it legit, like a real luxury car commercial,” the younger Lanman said.
Max Lanman is the founder of LEÃO, a creative agency that makes commercials, virtual reality and branded content. He has worked with companies like Microsoft, Häagen-Dazs and Marriott Rewards. To prepare the now-viral video, he worked with his team from LEÃO — cinematographer Christopher Ripley and composer Andrew Johnson — and other friends and colleagues.
He told CNBC Make It that creating the video took around 200 hours over the course of the past year.
“The experience of doing it was just a blast,” he said. “That was our M.O. from the beginning. If we have fun making this, then it will be worth it.”
After the ad went viral, bids for the car rose quickly, with the highest bid made during the first of two auctions totalling a whopping $150,000.
Max Lanman told CNBC Make It that an eBay official called to reassure him that they were aware of the story, “loved the video” and were monitoring the auction in order to remove fraudulent bids. Shortly afterward, however, an eBay employee who was not aware of the story canceled the auction, thinking that nobody would want to spend so much money on a 21-year-old car, according to the CNBC Make It article.
A second auction, started shortly after the first one fell through, was also cancelled.
But even if the eBay plan does not work, there is hope for “Greenie.”
CarMax, the United States’ largest used-car retailer, made its own video in response to Lanman’s ad. In the video, the narrator says he has been authorized by CarMax to make a “legal and binding offer” of $20,000 for the car and other miscellaneous objects featured in the original video.
“It started to take on a life of its own,” Max Lanman told CNBC Make It. “We were in this sort of weird state where, previously we were thinking, ‘There’s no way this is going to be real,’ and then thinking, ‘Wait, is this real?’”
Both Lanman brothers are affiliated with Jonathan Edwards College.
Anastasiia Posnova | firstname.lastname@example.org