Man's Search For Meaning In A Great Car Commercial, for Cognac

Ronnie Schreiber
by Ronnie Schreiber

Not following the hip-hop scene closely, I’m not really sure who Nas is, a quick search shows that he’s a successful rapper and actor. I do know who Malcolm Campbell and Viktor Frankl were. Sir Malcolm was a British racer and writer, who set and held world land and water speed records in the 1920s and 30s in cars and boats called Blue Bird, many of his own design, breaking the LSR nine different times. Campbell’s final record, set at the Bonneville Salt Flats in the Blue Bird V, made him the first human to drive a car more than 300 mph. Frankl was a psychiatrist and neurologist who founded a form of existential analysis called logotherapy. After surviving the Holocaust of European Jewry by the Nazis, with his psychic wounds still fresh in 1946 he wrote Mans Search For Meaning, which hasn’t gone out of print since its publication. As part of an ad campaign that’s something about ‘ chasing your wild rabbit‘, Hennesey cognac had director Martin de Thurah cut two versions of a long form television commercial, really a short film, called The Man Who Couldn’t Slow Down, about Campbell. It’s not a commercial trying to sell a car but it’s the best commercial with a car that I’ve seen in a long time. The shorter commercial is the one you’re more likely to see and is at the top of this post. It’s gotten the lion’s share of publicity, no doubt because the the aforementioned Nas lends his talents for the narration. A longer form version, though, uses the words and voice of Frankl, “the most fundamental and basic concern of man, neither pleasure nor happiness, nor power or prestige, but his wish to find and fulfill a meaning in his life.”

Both commercials are powerful little films, though one always wonders if Clio-worthy ads actually sell product.

Rather than make everything look vintage and sepia toned, the look is all hi-def, so they had to make a realistic replica of one of the Blue Birds.

Though the production team used plenty of digital effects, the car you see racing down what is supposed to be a Florida beach (I suspect it might have actually been shot adjacent to the Pacific Ocean near Los Angeles) in the ad is a real runner, built by Ghost Light, a Los Angeles shop that specializes in preparing cars for the film industry. It has a tube space frame, a LS3 engine, posi-traction and coilovers.

man s search for meaning in a great car commercial for cognac

The body is fiberglass, and looks like it’s based on Campbell’s 1932 car that reached 253.97 mph on Daytona’s beach.

I wonder what Hennessy is going to do with it after the ad campaign is over. There aren’t that many television or movie cars that I’d like to own, but I think this one might be fun.

In case you’re interested I’ve transcribed Frankl’s narration as well as the ad copy written for Nas to deliver. They’re both being used to sell spirits but they’re just not quite the same.


Malcolm Campbell would not slow down. When they told him he had reached a limit. He just had one thought: faster. What was he chasing? What are you chasing? Hennessy VS. Never stop. Never settle.


The most fundamental and basic concern of man, neither pleasure nor happiness, nor power or prestige, but his wish to find and fulfill a meaning in his life. If there is a meaning to fulfill, then he is ready to suffer, he is ready to offer sacrifices, he is ready to undergo tension, stress and so forth. A work to do, a job to complete, a task a meaning, a mission waiting for him exclusively to be materialized, to be actualized by him and by no other person, right now, who else if not he? Any human being is concerned with something out there in the world.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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  • PrincipalDan PrincipalDan on Dec 05, 2013

    Much better than Dewar's ads. "Are ya thirsty Angus?"

  • Hands of lunchmeat Hands of lunchmeat on Dec 08, 2013

    Unlike Mr Scrieber, ive followed hip hop very closely, and it does sadden me to see Nas bend and take money from a liquor company, as if you know him, you will know that for someone who has been in the industry for two decades now, he was solely committed to his craft. It would be akin to Michael Jordan still suiting up for the Bulls and still able to go out and score 30 points a night. For while other artists of his era went out and became shills, partners and moguls, its obvious that they used hip hop as a springboard into said endeavors. Nas has kept very close to it, simply because for him its his true love and passion, not just an opportunity. So it saddens me a bit that he's chasing the check for Hennessey at this point, and despite the fact that it does look like a cool project, its one for a company the likes of he said hed never work for. Another one bites the dust.

  • Tassos What was the last time we had any good news from Ford? (or GM for that matter?)The last one was probably when Alan Mulally was CEO. Were you even born back then?Fields was a total disaster, then they go hire this clown from Toyota's PR department, the current Ford CEO, Fart-ley or something.He claims to be an auto enthusiast too (unlike Mary Barra who is even worse, but of course always forgiven, as she is the proud owner of a set of female genitals.
  • Tassos I know some would want to own a collectible Mustang. (sure as hell not me. This crappy 'secretary's car' (that was exactly its intended buying demo) was as sophisticated (transl. : CRUDE) as the FLintstone's mobile. Solid Real Axle? Are you effing kidding me?There is a huge number of these around, so they are neither expensive nor valuable.WHen it came out, it was $2,000 or so new. A colleague bought a recent one with the stupid Ecoboost which also promised good fuel economy. He drives a hard bargain and spends time shopping and I remember he paid $37k ( the fool only bought domestic crap, but luckily he is good with his hands and can fix lots of stuff on them).He told me that the alleged fuel economy is obtained only if you drive it like a VERY old lady. WHich defeats the purpose, of course, you might as well buy a used Toyota Yaris (not even a Corolla).
  • MRF 95 T-Bird Back when the Corolla consisted of a wide range of body styles. This wagon, both four door and two door sedans, a shooting brake like three door hatch as well as a sports coupe hatchback. All of which were on the popular cars on the road where I resided.
  • Wjtinfwb Jeez... I've got 3 Ford's and have been a defender due to my overall good experiences but this is getting hard to defend. Thinking the product durability testing that used to take months to rack up 100k miles or more is being replaced with computer simulations that just aren't causing these real-world issues to pop up. More time at the proving ground please...
  • Wjtinfwb Looks like Mazda put more effort into sprucing up a moribund product than Chevy did with the soon to be euthanized '24 Camaro.