Johnson’s Badger: No Sale

NEW YORK In a new series of spots for Johnson Automotive, a two-foot tall badger, a fat little guy with claws in a polyester plaid sports jacket and striped tie, is supposed to embody all the things about car salesmen that buyers typically hate. He pressures a couple in an attempt to make a quick sale, takes a popcorn break and shows that he could not care less about a car that needs servicing, generally demeans women customers, and riles up a guy on a test drive. With his big, loud, annoying voice, he tends to, um, badger you to death. And the takeaway is supposed to be that the Johnson car dealerships are badger-free. Except that what viewers will remember, if The Martin Agency is lucky, is the badger, and possibly the Johnson Automotive name. So doesn’t this mean that customers will start seeking out the badger, and the well-meaning sales folk at Johnson will have to comply? This is one more reason that the ad industry should start a moratorium on talking animals. (Of course, the agency’s gecko is grandfathered in.)