Generation Why: For Comparison, An Acura TSX Ad From 2009

Derek Kreindler
by Derek Kreindler

With a few of our readers providing some particularly good insight into Acura’s ILX campaign based on their work in marketing, I’m submitting an ad for the TSX from 2009 for their consideration, as well as my own commentary.

The ads are similar in essence, targeting a similar audience, with a similar product with similar positioning. What are the differences? To my untrained eye, the TSX ad is more compelling. If Acura is really going for the “aspirational” aspect, then I aspire more towards the TSX ad; the beach, the open road, the big city skyline, infinity pools, the avant-garde hip-hop/electro soundtrack, the night clubs, lots of long-legged girls that also smile demurely at you.

Also more compelling is the idea of “start-up luxury”. That was the main theme they used in Canada. This is apparently a U.S. ad, and they took a slightly different approach.

“This isn’t soft luxury. This is start a business, sell it and start another one, luxury”

That’s what’s mentioned at 27 seconds in. Think about that versus the office stooge/airport hamster characters in the ILX ad. What’s more compelling to a young man looking to blaze a trail in the world?

Reader nathaniel called me out for my lack of branding knowledge, and it’s true, I’m not a professional marketer. But my past columns seem to have struck a nerve with many people, and like I said, you don’t have to be a chef to know the food is bad. Nathaniel, APaGttH, any other marketing pros and anyone interesting in this sort of stuff, let me know what you think about this ad versus the ILX ad. I’ve already declared my preference. Dissenting opinions always welcome.

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6 of 30 comments
  • Hyundaivirgin Hyundaivirgin on Jun 06, 2012

    I am 39 years old, test-drove the previous generation TSX and can buy this car (several times) with cash, but this ad pisses me off. It tries to tell me what I should like, and thus comes across as at once patronizing and trying too hard to be cool. Not everyone wants to start worthless companies. The ad is saying, I know what you like, and I agree with you that your goals are totally awesome dude. Acura should leave the clingy creepy older salesman for the dealerships, not channel him into their ads.

  • WheelMcCoy WheelMcCoy on Jun 06, 2012

    This ad lost it for me with the line "This isn’t soft luxury. This is start a business, sell it and start another one, luxury” I'm not the target demographic, but I do know serial entrepreneurs have attention deficit disorder or are just phony. The better breed of entrepreneur has a great idea and wants to change world. Note the difference. For that reason, I prefer the ILX ad. While the aspirational world it portrays is fantasy, it's not phony. The difference is subtle, but present. But I found a better ad for the TSX, one that emphasizes fun on rolling hills accompanied by jazzy music: Hints of aspiration include the driver wearing a dress shirt, the coffee from what appears to be Starbucks, and business papers in the air. But the emphasis is fun, not just for the young, but for the young at heart. And for nostalgia, here's another Acura ad that speaks to me -- the Integra and hot wheels: Vintage Acura.

  • Tekdemon Tekdemon on Jun 07, 2012

    Except this ad is rather less realistic than the ILX ad-the average ILX buyer is unlikely to be someone actually starting and selling multiple businesses. And as much as I'd like to fantasize about being some crazy multiple business builder and seller it's not who I am right now nor is it 99% of people buying Acuras. That kinda person would be dumping cars after brief leases for the next even hotter car, not buying a the low profile TSX or entry level ILX. The most successful TSX driver is Zuckerberg and he started a business then proceeded to not sell it even when offered a billion dollars and instead stuck with it until it was worth many times that (even accounting for the stock price tanking it's still worth about 70 times that). The kinda person who starts multiple businesses and sells them is also the kinda person who swaps cars over and over and over, the kind that's pretty damned unlikely to be caught driving an ILX. That just isn't the kinda person who'd actually buy an ILX or for that matter a TSX. Those people would be out there leasing whatever the new hotness is then dumping it like their companies. So while the TSX ad here might be a nicer fantasy the ILX ad actually aligns a *lot* closer to most of the target demographic's actual life. They might both be ad company fantasies but one is pretty damned close to reality while the other one is like a beer ad. I like the ILX ad a lot better, and for that matter I like the idea of building an awesome company through the years a lot better than being some ADD entrepreneur who keeps making half-baked companies. All the really legendary businessmen always stuck around to build empires anyway so why would you want to be the weird ADD business guy?

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    • Lolcopterpilot Lolcopterpilot on Jun 07, 2012

      @28-Cars-Later Read "The Millionaire Next Door." Most millionaires in America started their own businesses, I would guess its the same for billionaires. Know what Warren Buffet drives? A beat up old Volvo station wagon. There's a story in the book that illustrates how the truly wealthy think about consumption. A wealthy man receives a Bentley as a gift from his friends. He doesn't like it. Why? When he goes hunting he can't put game in the backseat, which is too small, and will get damaged/stained. The fact that it is an expensive car only means it is a waste. For the truly wealthy, a car, no matter how expensive, is such an insignificant expenditure that there is no reason to spend more time thinking about it than is necessary, ie. for transportation. For the rest of us, it's fake it 'til you make it. Thus, every luxury brand ever.

  • Alwaysinthecar Alwaysinthecar on Jun 08, 2012

    mistercopacetic makes a point that I think most people here (i.e., those who even bother reading a car website) tend to overlook. Many wealthy people just aren't into cars. I live in Montecito CA (Google it) and while there is a large percentage of high end cars here (mainly S Class type cars purchased as the 'default' car choice of many wealthy people) and some car enthusiasts with supercars (purchased as either collector value or 'hobby' value), there is an equal amount of extremely wealthy people who drive 'basic' transportation cars. A car just isn't an important part of their life. They travel often but never make 'road trips'(they travel by leased or privately owned jets.) And they certainly don't need a car to emphasize their wealth; when you really got it, you don't need to flaunt it. Car enthusiasts (as in the TTAC demographic) are rarely swayed by car ads. We pretty much know what we want based on the actual specs of the car. Car ads are directed to buyers who don't know a lot about cars. They don't approach car ownership like we do. And they don't really care about cars in the long run. The Acura ad (and all car ads) are reaching for a demographic that just needs to buy a car, period. If the ad 'connects' to that person's lifestyle/world view then they can connect to the ad and presumably connect to the car itself and will buy one. The actual car itself doesn't really mean a lot to them aside from the perception of it fitting into their own lifestyle.