STORY’s Jeff France has directed a new spot for Prestone and The Richards Group, Dallas, that seeks to assure car owners that they have no reason to fear the reaper. Prestone has their backs.
Promoting Prestone Coolant and its ability to protect cars from overheating, Parking Lot opens on a man walking through the parking lot of an auto parts store on a hot day with a container of the product. A mammoth, black tow truck, emblazoned with skull and crossbones, appears behind the man and follows him, intent on taking his car to its auto graveyard. The Reaper’s plans are foiled, however, when the man suddenly whips around and confronts the truck with his Prestone Coolant. Other people, aware of the man’s plight, leap to his side. They, too, hold Prestone. “The Reaper has no choice,” says France, “but to back off and find another victim.”
The spot is a sequel to one released last fall that introduced the character of The Reaper. The new spot pushes the concept of the auto-death-wielding tow truck further and treats it with a lighter touch. “The concept plays on the fear, shared by many people, of being stranded in the summer heat,” France notes. “I immediately fell in love with the idea of The Reaper.”
France says that he and The Richards Group’s creative team debated whether to reveal the hero’s container of Prestone at the beginning of the spot, or save it as a surprise for the end. Their decision, France recalls, was ultimately suggested by the master of suspense. “Hitchcock would always let the audience know that there is a bomb under the chair,” he explains. “In forcing the audience to wait it out, he created suspense. We followed that point of view.”
France predicts that, while it may have been stymied this time, The Reaper will be back. “The Richards Group has created an iconic character that will have very long legs,” he says. “The Reaper is going to be around for a long, long time.”