Nissan North America and TBWA Worldwide, Nissan’s ad agency have agreed to a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission over the FTC’s claims that a television commercial for the Nissan Frontier misled consumers about the truck’s ability to climb hills. The 30 second ad, titled “Hill Climb”, portrayed a Frontier pushing a stranded dune buggy up a steep sand dune. In reality, the Frontier wold not be able to perform the stunt in the ad. To shoot the ad, both vehicles were towed up the hill using cables.
Back in my college days, it seemed like every single Chrysler commercial featured a car that would morph from the old model into the new model.
Minivan morph. Neon morph. Intrepid morph. The technological transitions were quite well done, and I always enjoyed a commercial that reminded me of the movie “Terminator 2.”
But then I had a few ideas of my own…
We’ve been a bit critical of Honda’s advertising recently, and though I’m not a big fan of most of the latest David Puddy (OK, OK, Patrick Warburton) spots, I have to give it up for this one. I’ve wondered about the “cars with bows” ad meme for some time now, and though it was estimated that some 50,000+ vehicles were given as gifts last holiday season, I really can’t wait for the ad theme to die. We all love surprise gifts (especially expensive ones), but shouldn’t the person who will actually be driving the car have some say in what they get? I mean, I’d be grateful if someone bought me a new Lexus RX (a chief perpetrator of this ad meme) out of the blue… but mostly in the “it’s the thought that counts” way. Want to surprise someone with something expensive? Buy them jewelry or a watch. Want to buy someone a car? Make sure you really know exactly what car the giftee wants, and for goodness sake, make sure they drive it and the competition first. Surprises last a few seconds, the right car will delight for years to come.
This Cadillac ad is the latest in a series of seriously good spots for the CTS-V, which started with this “Competition” ad from last Summer. But then, as I found in a short drive, the CTS-V writes its own ad copy, 556 HP at a time. And this latest spot has one minor truth-related omission: though GM rightly claims that Magneride Magnetorheological suspension was “perfected” in the CTS-V, it actually debuted in the less ad-dollar-worthy 2002 STS. And there’s no mention of the fact that the technology was developed by Delphi, then a technically independent firm, and the technology has since been sold to Beijing West Industries. Of course, these details aren’t exactly worthy of the limited time available in a 60-second spot, but it’s the truth, dammit. “Just sayin…”
When Mercedes featured hooded death in an ad for its Brake Assistance System, our own European automotive advertising veteran, Bertel Schmitt, wrote
never in my life would I have expected to see the grim reaper in a car ad. Especially not in the death seat. Especially not in a Mercedes ad. The boys from Sindelfingen never were known for their daredevil approach to advertising. Even at Volkswagen, which used to take more risk in their campaigns (< - they said this one wasn’t approved), any ad showing an old man with a scythe would have been immediately – - killed.
Of course, most Americans wouldn’t bat an eye at an ad featuring death… from politics to sales, our culture is built on scaring people into buying/accepting things. But this Dutch ad for the Hyundai Veloster, which was apparently approved and then banned, would have caused a few quizzical looks in any country. Not because it features death incarnate, but because advertising the Veloster’s freaky three-door layout as a safety feature is just that absurd. This ad should never have seen the light of day for the simple reason that it’s an old-school and utterly conventional approach (by banned-ad standards, anyway) to marketing one of the few cars on the market that is willfully and unnecessarily unique, simply for the sake of being unique. Surely, in this age of appliance-like cars, conventional styling and unadventurous product planning, uniqueness is enough of a marketing hook on its own…
Despite signs that the horsepower wars are over (or have at least been refined), nobody would argue that the American market lacks for high-powered offerings. Except, apparently, Dodge and its crack ad team at Wieden + Kennedy who have based the latest Durango ad around the idea that performance is dead in America. This canard is so preposterously misguided and thoroughly misinformed that I can’t even bring myself to lay out the all-to-obvious critique piece-by-piece. Instead, let’s turn to the legendary auto ad-blaster, the Autoextremist himself to point out why this may well be one of the most stupid car ads in a long time.
Every advertiser faces a basic choice at the outset of a campaign: come up with unique, relatable imagery for ads, or riff on an established cultural meme. Volkswagen went the latter route with its “Darth Vader” Super Bowl ad, achieving huge success: it was the most popular auto-related ad of the Super Bowl, and the Youtube version has received over 40 million views. The only problem with appropriating such popular imagery: you don’t enjoy unique rights to it, meaning you can be easily hoisted by your own petard. Which is exactly what’s happened here to Volkswagen. Greenpeace is angry that VW opposed a bid to bump the EU’s 2020 emissions goal from the agreed-upon 20% to 30% of 1990 levels (even though C02 emissions improved 3.7% last year and 5.1% in 2009, and average emissions are on track to hit the 130g/km 2015 goal ahead of schedule). As a result, they’ve turned VW’s hugely popular “Darth Vader” ad on its head, identifying the giant automaker with the evil Lord Vader, and encouraging fans to “join the rebellion.”
This new Volkswagen ad is the first global thrust of the firm’s latest ad campaign, which centers around the concept of environmental friendliness, and the tagline “Think Blue.” The ad is nothing special in itself, other than being somewhat hypnotic in its cross-cultural depiction of changing environmental consciousness, but the blue-is-the-new-green campaign as a whole is more than a little confusing for a number of reasons.
Honda’s latest Civic may not have made a great impression on TTAC’s Best and Brightest, but the new compact isn’t targeting any one buyer anyway. As theinspirationroom.com reports [click through for new ad videos], Honda’s new Civic campaign is all about broadening the model’s appeal… to five specific stereotypes.
The campaign features five distinct characters, each representing a different model. The Urban Woodsman, Jack, lives in the city but is at home in the woods. He likes his Hybrid for its great fuel efficiency, which comes in handy on his many trips to the great outdoors. The Zombie, Mitch, is a salesman who’s into high-tech gadgets. His Civic Sedan is loaded with options like Bluetooth HandsFreeLink and navigation system with FM Traffic. The Monster, Teeny, is a bubbly and studious college coed. Her practical nature and frugal budget align with the fuel-efficient HF model. The Ninja, Aiko, is cute, innocent and deadly. A martial-arts phenom who’s partial to red licorice and arcade games, she pairs well with the high-energy performance of the Si model. Cesar, the Champion Luchador, is somewhat of a celebrity. He’s handsome, charming and a bit vain so he, of course, appreciates the Civic Coupe’s sleek lines.
Of course, Honda never needed this kind of segmentation silliness (which reeks of the “brand central studios” that Bob Lutz rips in his new book) in order to make its Civic one of the best-selling nameplates in the US market. Meanwhile, the requisite price of this kind of “personality profiling” is that the mass market “profile” (i.e. the people who buy the majority of Civics) gets a short shrift compared to the smaller but sexier niche profiles. As a result, Honda signals that it sees the bulk of Civic buyers as “zombies,” with no distinguishing characteristics besides a vague affinity for tech toys. Compare this to the legendary tagline “you meet the nicest people on a Honda,” and you’ll begin to get a sense of how far Honda’s marketing has fallen in recent years…
Hey you, you’re an “auto enthusiast,” right? You care about the “driving experience, yes”? Good, name a top-20 global automaker that sells one brand of cars globally, marketed specifically to enthusiasts.
Take your time answering, but there’s only one… and it has something very serious to say to you.