A couple of years ago, Alamo screwed up my reservation for a plain old car and I wound up driving a Lincoln Continental pickup truck. It was okay but it was ridiculous.
The Humvee is ridiculous, too. So are the Cadillac Escalade, Porsche Cayenne, Lincoln Navigator and Aviator. All ridiculous.
The business of luxury cars, as opposed to trucks, is ridiculous but in another way. The vehicles are fine but the advertising seems nuts. Watching the commercials, I scratch my head wondering: a) what they’re actually selling and b) if it’s possible that their target audience is juvenile.
Assuming car makers and their agencies know what they’re doing, the flaw, if there is one, must lie with the audience.
What is actually being sold in nearly all luxury car spots is fantasy bordering on the delirious lunacy of a perfume commercial.
The oddest thing is that the commercials are all so much alike that they blend. “Was that a spot for a Beemer or a Benz? Neither, an Audi? You don’t say.”
The one fantasy they all have in common is the empty road. Or street, because quite often the uber-hip must drive through the mean streets to prove their cool. Beautiful people in beautiful cars racing along empty streets and highways. If that’s not fantasy, nothing is.
Most commercials pile at least one more fantasy on top of the common core fantasy.
A spot for the Lexus IS 350 starts off with a crowd at some kind of show. The conceit is that “some things are designed to draw crowds.” In this crowd, two blue eyed blondes dressed all in white stand out. The guy has a beard so we can tell he’s the guy. They make their way through the crowd to each other and then to the car. Ta da.
A Mercedes Benz CLA, driven by a bearded guy in a suit, races with a wolf. The wolf can go cross country but the Mercedes has to stick to the road (empty, of course), until it runs, briefly, into traffic – actually just one truck, which is a prop to help demonstrate the car’s ability to brake itself in case the bearded guy’s not paying attention which he’s not because he’s looking around for the wolf. When the guy gets home, just ahead of the wolf, we see the car’s ability to help the guy park in a driveway big enough for five cars. The wolf walks by the car and snarls as the word “Untamed” appears on screen. Lame might have been a more appropriate word.
BMW has an all models spot with different cars driving along empty streets and empty country roads and across empty bridges while a cello plays funereal music. There’s an SUV tearing up a beach, which is annoying just to watch. It must have been infuriating to the people in the nearby houses.
Audi takes the cake with a super-weird spot that has over 10,000,000 hits on the Internet (the others have a few thousand.) Kids must love this nonsense. A kid takes the family Audi to the prom. He’s dateless and friendless, but, apparently, a rebel. He parks in the principal’s spot, stomps determinedly through the crowd (which looks and acts just like the Lexus crowd) straight to the prom queen. He kisses her. The prom king shouts “Hey” and races over. Next thing, the kid has a black eye and he’s driving home, howling. Up come the words “Bravery. It’s what defines us.” Bravery? Sheesh, on Earth he’d get busted for assault.
None of these commercials make any sense at all to normal people for one simple reason. Apparently Lexus, Mercedes, BMW and Audi don’t make cars for the real world. They make cars for self-centered, rude people, ridiculous people, the kind who actually buy into the fantasy nonsense.
And it might pay off.
A survey in the UK by the DailyMail, tells us that the rudest drivers drive BMWs. Research by the University of California published this study, indicts drivers of “fancy” cars, especially drivers of Beemers.
I suspect that commercials for “fancy cars” are designed specifically to appeal to the pathetic souls we know as narcissists, the kind of people who act as if the streets and highways really are traffic free except for them.