As its slogan goes, Mohawk Honda goes out of its way to please you. But did you know the Glenville car dealership also goes out of its way to please local drama kids?
Mohawk Honda literally rolled out the red carpet Tuesday evening for members of the Ballston Spa Middle School drama club who appeared in the dealership’s latest television commercial, which surprisingly features no cars — just students. About 130 students in the club’s recently wrapped production of “Grease” appeared in the commercial, which began airing Wednesday and runs for a full month on local Time Warner Cable channels.
“This is an opportunity for us to showcase the talents of our local students while proudly showing the community our support for our schools,” said Mohawk Honda owner Jeff Haraden.
Students and parents gathered Tuesday evening at the dealership’s show- room on Freemans Bridge Road for a viewing party, munching pizza first and chatting with friends.
This is actually the second time the drama club — “Launching Pad Productions,” officially — has been featured in a Mohawk Honda commercial. Last year, the cast of “My Son Pinocchio” appeared in a commercial for the dealership.
It all started when Haraden needed to one-up a competitor. Every year, English teacher and drama club leader Joe Shaver asks Haraden, whose kids are students in the district, if his Glenville dealership will place an ad in the playbill for whatever production they’re putting on that year. Every year he says yes.
“Last year, when I was at a swim meet, [Shaver] came walking over and said, ‘You’re going to kill me,’ and I said, ‘What?’ and he said, ‘One of your competitors put an ad in the playbill this year.’”
His first instinct was to one-up the other dealership by getting permission to hang a Mohawk Honda banner in the school auditorium during the club’s performance of “My Son Pinocchio.” At the end of the play’s run, Shaver texted Haraden a video of some members of the crew having fun, singing the Mohawk Honda “We go out of our way to please you” jingle.
“I liked it so much, I said ‘Can we actually do this for real and make a commercial with it?’ Because it was kind of a catchy little jingle when they did it,” Haraden recalled.
So they made a commercial last year, and continued the tradition this year.
“There are not really many people who spotlight the performing arts, so it’s nice to finally be noticed and recognized,” said Shaver, who produced and co-directed this year’s production.
Ironically, Ballston Spa eighth-grader Sam Hardeen was one of the leads in “My Son Pinocchio” but the didn’t get to be in the commercial last year. He had a stomachache during filming.
“So it was really cool that I finally got to be in it,” he said Tuesday at the Mohawk Honda showroom. “There was like one person who didn’t really know the jingle.”
The full-length commercial is about a minute long and starts with songs from the production played over behind-the-scenes clips of the cast. It then cuts to a message displayed in white text on a black screen: “Mohawk Honda proudly supports more than 100 organizations that make our communities stronger, more livable places. We owe everything to our community. Our neighbors have bought a lot of cars from us over the years. They’ve also taught our children, built our homes and run the stores we visit every day. That’s why we give back.”
It ends with a shot of the full cast and crew singing that old familiar jingle.
The feedback from last year’s commercial helped inspire the second go-around this year, said Haraden.
“I had other schools emailing me, people from the theaters and music groups, saying ‘Wow, it’s about time someone has come to appreciate students involved in something other than sporting events,’” he recalled. “They were so pleased to see us reaching out and spotlighting theatrical students.”