The only way any of the Chicago Bears made it to last night’s Super Bowl at Levis Stadium deep in the heart of Silicon Valley (not actually in San Francisco — don’t believe the hype), is if they bought a ticket on StubHub. But that doesn’t mean that Chicago didn’t make an appearance.
Our fair city made a prominent, though anonymous, appearance in a new Toyota commercial. Rebranded as the City of Newclarke (wha?), generic police cars chase a Prius around town, while radio dispatchers chortle, “How hard can it be to catch a Prius?”
Chicago has long been a favorite location for filming car commercials for a number of reasons. As Mayor Emanuel likes to note, “Chicago is the most American of American cities,” which in media lingo means we’re pretty generic looking. More importantly, Chicago is one of only two cities in the country with a seriously large, seriously urbanized downtown core with lots of long stretches of city canyons, crosswalks, elevated trains, skyscrapers, and associated urban eye candy.
The other city is New York, and… well… have you tried to film a car commercial in New York lately? There’s a reason every single car commercial shot there takes place on the same one block stretch of Washington Street in Brooklyn’s DUMBO neighborhood. If you want to shut down streets for a car commercial in New York on a Chicago-size scale, then you’d better be selling gold-plated Popemobiles for a brazillion dollars a pop.
Los Angeles was another favorite location for car commercials until a few years ago when all of the best “urban” downtown streets became decorated with fluorescent green bike lanes, cutting the number of available “city” scenes in half. Lazy commercial production houses compensated by doubling up on gratuitous shots of the 2nd Street Tunnel and the multi-level intersection of 4th and Hope. Those with a little bit of budget took their productions to Vancouver or (*gasp*) Seattle in search of an urban habitat for their cars to prowl. Hopefully CDOT’s Loop Link candy stripes don’t have a similar affect on Chicago’s commercial production tally.