Viva Commerce! (#23)

Dear Chrysler,

Your current ads on the eye of hell feature the following proclamation:

We don’t want to be just any car company,
We want to be your car company.

Chrysler logo

That’s a lovely sentiment. It really is. But I have to tell you, you’re not going to be my car company. I haven’t owned a car since I gave my thirteen-year-old VW (“das Spiff”) to charity in the spring of 2000. I’d just paid about $500 for some repairs, brought it in for its annual inspection, and was told that it would need another $600 or so in repairs to pass. That was the end of the road for das Spiff. Since then, I’ve weaned myself from the need and I wouldn’t want a car now — not from you or anyone else. I’ve got no use for one.

True, if I were interested in buying a car, it probably wouldn’t be one of yours, but that’s hardly the point.

Personally, I’d advise just a little patience on your part, Chrysler.

Six months from now, the idea of being just any car company is probably going to seem like a real prize to you.

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It’s No Toyotathon Without You

Squire FridellThey say it’s Toyotathon time.

They’re calling it “The Toyotathon of Toyotathons.”

They lie.

Without my man Squire Fridell whipping us into a frenzy, I say it’s no Toyotathon at all.

Come back to us, Squire, we need you! I’m sure you’re very busy running your little winery, but come on, man! It’s Toyotathon time, and you’re the Toyotathon guy! Can’t you come out of retirement once a year, at this extra special time, to bring back the spirit of the Toyotathon?

If you can’t make it, do you think your daughter would consider taking up the tradition?

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Viva Commerce! (#20)

Mercedes logoDear Mercedes-Benz,

Your latest spot for the C Class on the eye of hell opens with the following:

300 horsepower is fast.
400 will take your breath away.
That’s why we gave it 451.

Sorry, but I’ve just got to ask: why exactly did you give it 451?

Do you want me to lose control of the vehicle and get myself killed?

Are you trying to belittle me? Oooh, I don’t think you should buy this car. It’s much too powerful for little old you. You might hurt yourself.

Maybe it’s your idea of a dare: I just bet you can’t drive this car without killing somebody.

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Viva Commerce! (#19)

Dear Hertz,

Hertz logoI was hoping we could discuss your recent spot on the eye of hell. There are a few things in there that I find a bit surprising.

We start off with Mr. and Ms. All-American-Youthful-White-Couple. Ms. AAYWC is in the passenger seat of a little yellow convertible. Mr. AAYWC, from behind the car, runs up to the rear bumper, and launches himself off of it, flipping over the car and into the driver’s seat, then immediately zooms off.

Questions and Comments

  • Those shiny, colorful bumpers on contemporary American cars are really just bumper covers. They more decorative than anything else. I don’t think they’re intended to support your weight, even if you’re Mr. All-American-Youthful-White-Couple.
  • That leap into the car is somewhat reminiscent of the old Hertz ads in which OJ Simpson is carried through the airport and into his rental by the omnipotent, invisible hand of Hertz. In this case, however, there’s no indication that Hertz is helping with the trick. If that’s correct, he’s jumping on his own, and that’s somehow more worrisome than the magic realism you utilized in the past. I sure hope he managed the jump without hurting himself.
  • I didn’t see you (or your lovely companion, for that matter) buckle your safety belts before peeling out. I don’t know what state you’re in, but I don’t think that’s legal.

Back to our exciting commercial. We see the happy couple zipping around in the car. From a bird’s eye view, we see them weaving through highway traffic at high speed — significantly faster than anyone else on the road. They drive by a crowded gas station because Hertz, unlike other car rental agencies, will fill the tank for them for just a nominal fee. Finally, we see them driving past an airport, apparently faster than a jet that’s taking off behind them. And all the while, the car leaves a glowing yellow trail behind — sort of a cross between a contrail and a thick, radioactive lemonade.

Further Questions and Comments

  • I wonder if they’re even bothering to signal their lane changes on the highway. Clearly they’re speeding, acting without any regard for the safety of their fellow drivers.
  • Is that yellow cloud the car is spewing at all dangerous? It doesn’t look like it dissipates very quickly. Instead, it just lays there, menacingly glowing at those you’ve left behind.
  • Can you imagine how those poor souls at the gas station feel? We only get the briefest of reaction shots of them, and they just seem confused, but I’ll bet that within a few seconds at least some of them are bound to wonder if that mysterious yellow fog might explode.

So, let’s see what we’ve got here. You’re performing acrobatics to get into the car, you’re not wearing safety belts, you’re speeding, you’re switching from lane to lane like you’re running a slalom, and you clearly have no concern for the health, safety, comfort, or even vision of other people, be they other drivers or pedestrians.

And at no time do you offer any sort of caveat to the viewer. I’m sure you don’t want your customers to take part in these activities, particularly in your vehicles. Maybe you should consider adding a little note of warning at the bottom of the screen. Something like “do not attempt” ought to get the message across, don’t you think?

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Viva Commerce! (#14)

Honda AccordDear Honda,

I just caught your latest spot on the eye of hell, in which you ask the question, “Just how new is the all new Honda Accord?”

Are you fucking kidding me? What kind of smart-ass question is that? Haven’t you been paying attention?

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All New – The All New Version

Ford 500I wrote a post last year about the use of the phrase “all new” in advertising, but I assure you, this post is all new.

Remember the Ford Taurus? It was pretty popular back in its time. In fact, I think it beat out the Accord as the most popular car in the US for a year or two. It was discontinued just a year or two back, and replaced with the all new Ford 500. The 500 wasn’t such a big hit, though.

Ford TaurusWell, Ford is going to make everyone happy now, as the 500 is to be replaced with the all new 2008 Taurus. That’s a picture of an ’08 Taurus to the right, and the picture above is an ’06 500. Do you see what I see?

I see two almost identical cars. The new model doesn’t have the chrome strip along the side, the taillights are different, and it looks like the front turning signals might be slightly different as well, but that’s about it. So basically, what those deep thinkers at Ford have done is to take a not new model, attach a not new name to it, and come up with what they refer to as an all new product.

While I’m on the subject, the old all new post mentioned the use of the term “hit” being used for any program on the eye of hell, whether it received a large audience or not. Well, I saw a promo for Fox’s new game show, “Don’t Forget the Lyrics” last night. I think the program has aired once or twice at this point. Did they refer to it as a hit? Actually, no, they didn’t. Instead, the promo spoke of the “Don’t Forget the Lyrics phenomenon.” At first, that kind of threw me. Is a phenomenon bigger than a hit? Then I realized they’re probably just using the dictionary definition of the word: an observable fact or event, or an object or aspect known through the senses rather than by thought or intuition. That’s fair. I mean, I haven’t seen the show, but I think it’s safe for me to assume that if I were to tune in, I would experience something through my senses.

I just prefer not to find out exactly what that experience might be.

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Do Not Attempt

I have issues with advertising — particularly with commercials on the eye of hell.

I grew up a true vidiot, watching all the time, and I still have it on in the background a lot of the time when I work. Right now, Michael Musto is on Countdown telling me all about Tom Cruise and Sumner Redstone’s wife. Fascinating stuff. I used to sort of work for Redstone. I was sent to his home to show movies in his living room on a couple of occasions. But I digress.

In my youth, my brother Poe and I used to compete with each other to see who was faster at identifying the products in commercials, so we knew our stuff.

I expect I’ll end up writing a series of posts about the problems I have with advertising, but tonight I’d like to talk about car commercials — especially the ones that show off the wonderful things those cars can do.

  • When the cool CEO in his cool Cadillac beats his cool CFO in his cool Cadillac into his reserved parking space by doing a high speed donut in the parking garage…
  • When the dude in his Z (which keeps changing colors on him) tools around at high speed through a deserted city…
  • When a chorus line of Eclipse Spyder convertibles demonstrate their speed-sensitive sound systems by making like a graphic equalizer…

…we’re always given the all-important warning: “Professional driver on closed course. Do not attempt.

I can understand the carmakers’ desire to protect themselves and their customers. Of course they don’t recommend that you do anything foolhardy in the car (even though they’ve shown you that it can do it). The thing is, they overdo it on the safety. I remember a Hummer spot a couple of years ago that ended with an H1 or an H2 (like I know the difference) tooling down a perfectly straight, level, empty road without streetlights at dusk, but with the headlights on, at speeds that must have been close to 40 mph (around 65 km/h). And what was there at the bottom of the screen? Do not attempt!

Well, what can you attempt, then? What’s the point of buying the damned thing (yeah, I know, there’s no point in buying the damned thing) if you can’t drive it straight down a straight road? Is it really just for sitting in your driveway so people can walk by and say, “Nice ride, dude”? It’s not a ride if that’s all it’s doing!

Richard Pryor used to do a bit in which he noted that the people in beer commercials weren’t allowed to actually drink the beer. He would ask his kids what beer was for, and they’d reply, “for holding up and looking at.”

Well, have a look at this.

Apparently, such concerns didn’t exist in Japan in the 1980s. Either that, or there’s a “do not attempt” in there somewhere, but I think maybe they just felt that they were safe in assuming that, if this is what you can afford to buy, you’re not going to risk jumping it over fountains or dancing with it in a Metro station.

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