Ad of the Day: Ellie Kemper Helps Buick Get Quirky for Millennial Love

DigitasLBi airs out an old brand with honest dorkiness

Kimmy Schmidt may be unbreakable. But hey, Ellie Kemper, give that retractable roof button a rest already! 

The actress shifts her quirky-geek persona into high gear for a fun Buick campaign from DigitasLBi that introduces the General Motors nameplate's latest convertible, the Cascada, and also shows off some other models.

First up is a three-minute film that finds Kemper fantasizing about what it might be like to serve as a spokeswoman for the brand. "I don't even have a deep gravelly voice," she says … before practicing one that sounds like a cross between laryngitis and a belch: "B-uuu-ick!" 

Ultimately, she becomes "the face of Buick mothers everywhere and their beautiful Buick families," packing an Enclave SUV with her flame-haired progeny and coining the tagline, "Buick: Eat your pancakes in luxury." 


"Buick has an exciting new lineup, and the challenge brought to us was how to show it off," Steve Baker, associate creative director at DigitasLBi, tells Adweek. "We wanted to find a natural way to do that and thought a spokesperson was a perfect way to bring someone in and out of the vehicles, while exploring some great features. All we needed was a face." 

Kemper was "the perfect fit," Baker adds, owing to the "smart, funny" comic chops she displayed as Erin on The Office and, more recently, as the star of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. 

Shorter spots focus on specific vehicle features. Below, Kemper has just too much fun popping the Cascada's top and letting the sunshine in:


The goal is to "attract a younger audience that may associate the Buick brand to that of the past, not realizing the amazing car right in front of them may actually be a new Buick," says Molly Peck, the brand's director of marketing. 

Peck hopes millennial viewers warm up to the vehicles in a big way, much as Kemper grooves on the Cascada's heated steering wheel in the ad below: 


Finally, we learn that the Encore SUV also features a hand-warming wheel, though it's not as hot as Kemper's bespectacled gear-head co-star Gary, aka "You sweet piece of brainiac arm-candy":


Kemper is in fine comic form throughout the series, and the brand benefits from her energy and charm. That said, could some viewers grow weary of her schtick and tune out the message? 

"The thing about quirky-dorky is this: It's honest," Baker says. "And with honesty comes trust. That trust gets people nodding along [whether you're] exploring a vehicle and imaging what life could be like with you in it, or even imagining what your future family would look like. When you can relate to a brand in a human way, it helps change your perception. And that was exactly what we were trying to do."


Client: Buick

Agency: DigitasLBi

Chief Creative Officer: Ronald Ng

EVP, Managing Director: Robert Guay

EVP, Executive Creative Director: Rob Rizzo

SVP, Group Creative Director: Patrick McHugh

VP, Group Creative Director: Mark Chamberlain

Associate Creative Director: Steven Baker

Senior Copywriter: Graham Shepherd

VP, Executive Producer: Ben Raynes

SVP, Group Account Director: Brian McCallum

VP, Group Account Director: Yanlin Sun

Production Company: Community Films

Director: Seth Gordon

DP: Jim Frohna

Executive Producer: Lizzie Schwartz

Executive Producer: Carl Swan

Producer: Julie Ahlberg 

Editorial Company: Cutters Studio

Editor: Grant Gustafson

Mix: Heard City

@DaveGian David Gianatasio is a longtime contributor to Adweek, where he has been a writer and editor for two decades. Previously serving as Adweek's New England bureau chief and web editor, he remains based in Boston.
Publish date: January 26, 2016 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT