Sonic shock and awe on a highway

There’s a fine line between giving people what they want and scaring the bejeezus out of them. Last month in California, the creatives behind a Honda Civic commercial drove right over that line, and into an aural twilight zone.

Here’s the quick skinny: The Santa Monica ad agency RPA cut half-inch grooves into a quarter-mile stretch of Avenue K, in the exurban L.A. desert city of Lancaster. The grooves were synched in such a way that driving over them at precisely 55mph caused Rossini’s “William Tell Overture” — a.k.a. the Lone Ranger theme — to echo in the air around you. Well, not so fast, Kemosabe! Avenue K borders a quiet subdivision, the RPA failed to take variables such as tire pressure into account, and the Civic ad became a civic nuisance. The road has already been repaved, but YouTube is loaded with clips of drivers getting their grooves on. As for the ad? It was due to air in September, but as of today, we’re still waiting!

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