I'm not a big fan of commercials, and I'm even less a fan of doing them. Shooting commercials isn't part of my career path, and I take Bill Hicks's slam against Jay Leno's Dorito-schilling to heart. More basically, there are a lot of resources and brainpower dedicated to convincing us we should buy more things. I don't necessarily see my role on this earth as adding to that sales noise.
However, I was presented with an opportunity a few weeks ago that I decided to accept. It was to do a talk show inside a car, a new, hybrid, compact car from Lexus known as the CT 200h. The self-righteous farmers market shopper in me believes not a single new car should be sold in this country. Folks need to get off their asses and walk more, build up the public transit infrastructure and start biking! The realist in me knows that's not going to happen for several cultural, economic and geographic reasons. So if we can at least shift demand to less planet-destroying options, great. If we can actually make the better options not just good but cool, even better.
I accepted the gig and drove around Manhattan and Brooklyn while comedian Whitney Cummings interviewed me about my various activities. The project is called Darkcasting and rather than some invasive ad model taking over another publisher, Lexus did this themselves. I believe the world now refers to this as "branded entertainment." These endeavors can go horribly wrong. After all, what does a luxury car company know about making a good talk show? But Lexus put together a good team, and Whitney was a riot. Here's our segment:
FYI, I wasn't forced or even asked to say flattering things about the car. I'm generally anti-car, especially in NYC, but I'm pro-hybrid and I like what Toyota has done to motivate the industry.
Not everything made it into the final cut, of course. Not only did I take Whitney through some fun parts of Fort Greene, Brooklyn, but we drove by The Onion offices and the infamous Delicatessen where I famously lost a valuable Foursquare mayorship.
Even more exciting was the aggressive Forumla One-style driving tactics I had to employ on Flatbush Ave. Basically, some dude cut me off, separating me from the camera car. So I had to cut him off. Yes, I had to. Here's my version of events followed by one of the producer's (Nick) version of the events.
The whole project was a lot more fun than I expected. Whitney was great, as was the team at Skinny NYC and Lexus. Here's a 30 second trailer of the show which is organized around cities. I was one of three people interviewed for NYC, and the show is coming to San Fran, Chicago, New Orleans, LA and Miami.
And for the record/disclosure, yes I was paid for this. No, I did not get a free Lexus. Dangit.