The 2013 Mercedes-Benz Super Bowl commercial “Soul” will go down in history as a classic. Willem Dafoe, playing the devil, offers an unsuspecting man a life of fame and fortune through the new Mercedes-Benz. When the man realizes the low price of the car, he says, “Thanks, but I think got this.” It’s brilliant marketing, but the reason why is actually quite scary.
The commercial is brilliant because it taps into the self-saving, “I got this mentality,” that’s so prevalent in our day. We don’t want to submit to a Lord or King – even if it is the Creator of the universe. We’ve got this, right? Plus, the commercial simultaneously offers the good life suggesting that it does not include selling your soul to the devil. Viewers are left thinking I don’t need to sell my soul (so that’s good), I can achieve this myself (is this good?).
I have nothing against fame, fortune, or even the drive for them, only that they can quickly become our masters. Wealth, with the right perspective, is wonderful – although extremely rare. The “Soul” commercial is not after rare. It’s after what we worship – self-empowerment, control, fame, fortune – and we can “get it all” sans the devil.
The commercial’s story line can be taken right from the Bible when Jesus was in the desert 40 days. Here’s what we’re told in the Gospel of Matthew:
…the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”
Now it’s fairly obvious why Jesus didn’t take the good life. But He also didn’t run off and do it His way. He stuck with God – He sought God’s will. The greatest teacher in the world, the man who has had more impact on the history of the world than anyone, ever, said “serve him only.”
Yet, we say, ” Thanks, but I think I got this.”
Thanks for reading,
~ Ted Olson