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The Commercialism That Followed The Godfather

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Two major companies paid tribute to The Godfather by using the famous film to generate sales of their own.  Pepsi’s came first when, at the 1999 Academy Awards, they unveiled a commercial in which a little girl channeled the voice of the Godfather himself, Marlon Brando.  Then, at this year’s Super Bowl, Audi reinvented the iconic horse-head scene to make an offer that potential car buyers won’t be able to refuse.

As it turns out, Pepsi’s commercial didn’t bring “The Joy of Cola” to Italian-Americans.  In the controversial ad, Hallie Kate Eisenberg plays a little girl who, when served an inferior soda, turns into the Godfather to get the respect (and the beverage) she deserves. When groups like the National Italian American Foundation didn’t appreciate it, Pepsi dropped it promptly.

So far, Audi’s ad for the new R8 is faring better. It’s considered to be one of the best commercials of the year and that’s saying something.  It’s a good thing too because, according to USA Today, “Audi paid Paramount Pictures, which released the 1972 Oscar-winner, a licensing fee that it would describe only as ranging from $500,000 to $1.5 million.” Alex Rocco, the actor who played Moe Green in The Godfather, stars in this version. When the film came out, the horse-head scene angered animal rights activists but what appears beneath the sheets here — a grille severed from the front end of a luxury sports car — doesn’t seem to bother anyone.

AMC pays tribute to the entire Godfather Trilogy this month.  It all starts tonight, Monday, February 18 @ 8PM | 7C. For a complete schedule of the series click here.

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