Most of us don’t have the fancy luxury cars we’re always seeing in commercials. Instead, we have our old, used, but reliable vehicles that have been with us maybe a bit too long. Your Volvos, your Toyotas. Cars built in the previous millennium, but built to last.
Carrie Hollenbeck, from Los Angeles, has been faithful to her 1996 Honda Accord. It’s far from fancy, especially compared to today’s high-tech rides, but it’s gotten her where she needs to go—and has earned the affectionate nickname, “Greenie.”
But no car lasts forever, and despite her connection to the car, Hollenbeck knew it was finally time to trade up and part ways with Greenie. She listed the car on eBay for the modest sum of $499, a fair rate for a 21-year-old vehicle with 141,095 miles on it.
Then her fiance got an idea to promote the sale.
Hollenbeck’s fiance, Max Lanman, is a writer and director who has worked on professional car commercials in the past. When he found out Hollenbeck was selling the car, he got a fun idea to use his filmmaking skills to promote the listing and help her get a better sale.
He decided to make a professional, exotic car commercial for the used 1996 Honda.
Lanman said he first got the idea when he and Hollenbeck were driving the worn-out Honda on a scenic camping trip to Big Sur.
“While we were traversing gorgeous switchbacks, it felt like [we] were driving in a car commercial,” he explained to NBC Bay Area.
“That’s when it hit me that it would be really funny to make a high-end car commercial for a crappy car.”
So when it came time to sell, Lanman got to work selling the world on Greenie … and he pulled it off, incredibly. Directed with flair and production value worthy of a modern luxury vehicle, the commercial actually makes a compelling case of why the outdated Honda is even better than its newer, flashier counterparts.
Hollenbeck hired a professional actress to portray the type of low maintenance person this car is perfect for.
“You. You do things your way,” the narrator begins, aping the self-serious tone of a real ad pitchman as the driver fixes her hair in a bun in front of an in-trunk mirror. “That’s what makes you one-of-a-kind.”
“You don’t do things for appearances, you do it because it works.”
Sure, the ’96 Honda might not have Bluetooth like some newer models, but you have a cassette deck attached to a Video iPod.
And who needs customization when you’ve got a rear deck full of rubber duckies?
Some commercials feature a happy family piled up in the back seat … this one has a cat and a pot of coffee as passengers.
And of course, it wouldn’t be a car commercial without sweeping aerial shots.
And giant floating text showing off all of its … enticing features.
“This is not a car, this is you,” the narrator adds. “It’s a lifestyle. A choice. Your choice.”
It’s over-the-top, but it still makes a weirdly compelling argument—some people don’t need the status and frills of a new car and are better off with something reliable and cheap.
“Introducing a used 1996 Honda Accord, a car for people who have life figured out and just need a way to get somewhere.”
The ad was posted only a few days ago, but its quickly gone viral and currently has nearly four million views on YouTube.
But not only has the commercial been a hit … it’s inspiring people to actually bid on the car.
Within five days, bidding on the car on eBay reached $150,000.
Does that seem like an insane amount to spend on an old Honda, even with that convincing commercial? Unfortunately, eBay thought so, too.
“Apparently, someone in (eBay’s) fraud department, who was unaware of the ad and story behind it, could not believe that a 1996 Honda Accord was bidding for $150,000, and canceled the auction,” Lanman told NBC.
They were able to relist the car, and the highest bid is currently $3,300. Not as steep as the last bid, but still far higher than the original asking price, and more than double the estimated value.
But for now, Lanman is just stunned by the popularity of his fake commercial.
“It is surreal to think that something that I made with my friends, that two days ago sat on my computer, is now being watched around the world,” he told BBC. “Thank God for the internet.”
Hopefully, Greenie goes to a good home soon. While the fine print stipulates that the cat and coffee pot are not included in the sale, they will throw in the tape deck and the rubber duckies.