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Dumb Car Ads.
Critical Reviews of Motorcar Marketing
 


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Dumb Car Ads (1)...

          I am sure you have seen those car ads: the ones showing the latest model in a slow motion skid with water spraying everywhere.

          Excuse me, but isn't a vehicle in a skid on the verge of loosing control?    Isn't a skid something someone wants to avoid?

          When I was a young’n growing up in Wisconsin, my father took me out on a frozen lake in mom’s car (hmm….) We would race down the glare ice and my father, in the passenger seat, would yell,"TURN THE WHEEL!!!!   I did, and nothing happened…for a second. Then the front tires would catch a frozen leaf or a crack in the ice or patch of snow and the car was in a full blown, hold on to your hat, mind your britches, out of control SKID!!

          All the driving manuals I have ever read simply say , "Turn the steering wheel in the direction of the skid." What the good golly does that mean? When you are doing all you can to keep the front end before the back end, the simple explanation of,   "Turn the wheel in the direction of the skid" seems utterly meaningless. Especially when the tail of the car shows no preference as to which on side it will overtake you and at what moment !

          But what of those German cars shown on TV careening sideways down the wet pavement? Who believes that "BS" ?  I'll bet it is those people who take their exit at the last minute from the left lane right in front of me. They are just lucky that the pavement beneath them allowed enough traction to permit such a stupid maneuver. "He he", I think, "Their day will come… "

          The ad ends with a nearly illegible disclaimer, " Professional driver on a closed course. Do no not try this yourself…"

          I am grateful for my training behind the wheel while on a frozen lake with my Father. I learned to automatically respond to the "feeling" of the "back end breaking loose". That automatic reaction has saved me countless times since.

          So, to the marketing wizards that promote these automobiles, I just want to say this: I Don't   WANT   A Car That Can Be So Easily Thrown Out of Control. Show Me One That Handles !!!!

It seems so obvious…

Dumb Car Ads (2)...          Chevy Pick Up Trucks have adopted the slogan, "Like a Rock" accompanied by an tune with four words in the lyrics,  " Like a Rock, Like a Rock, OOOOOOh, Like a Rock!."    

Gimme a break.

Why would any marketing genius equate a vehicle that moves with a rock that doesn't ?     Does this really make sense?     Granted, the analogy to a rock is supposed to convey a sense of durability. But a rock is formed in a geological process. Is a truck formed in a geological process? A rock is gradually worn away by erosion into smaller and smaller pieces until it becomes mere dust. Is that like a truck?   ( Some would say "Yes"!)

A rock at rest can only be moved by the application of some outside force. For instance, a rock will roll downhill due to gravity and maybe blow uphill in the face of a very strong wind . . . Rocks in the North lay immobile and frozen to the earth under a blanket of snow all winter long. . . . Rocks crack and split in two in the heat of the desert sun. On the coasts, rocks are used as rip-rap to prevent the shoreline from washing away. . . . If you strike two rocks together, you can start a fire.   Is that like your truck?     Maybe so.

These are some questions that beg for an answer…
  • "Are the seats comfortable?"

  • "Like a Rock"
  • How does it steer?

  • "Like a Rock"
  • Acceleration good?

  • "Like a Rock"
  • Brakes any good?

  • "Like a Rock"
  • Appealing Design?

  • "Like a Rock"
"Like a Rock, Like a Rock, OOOOOOh, Like a Rock!" drives me nuts. Whenever that twangy music starts, I am driven to hurl the nearest object at the TV screen. With any luck at all, somebody at Chevy Trucks will read this and stop this stupid Ad Campaign before I ruin one more remote control. Oh, tossing the remote doesn't do any harm to the TV. Usually, the batteries fall out harmlessly about half way across the living room . . . Not at all like a rock.

Dumb Car Ads (3)...          Not to be outdone, Cadillac has come up with a really dumb car ad befitting their station. This commercial depicts a man blissfully driving his brand new Cadillac at freeway speeds through fog so thick he cannot see the hood of his limo. Being unable to see over the hood is not, by itself , unusual for many Cadillac owners. I see many who I am sure cannot see over the wheel. But the act of recklessly driving through impenetrable fog is the factor that makes this commercial so particularly dumb.
           The benefit of this ad, of course, could be that Cadillac owners might soon think it will be perfectly OK to go tooling around at 80 or 90 in a blinding fog. The carnage they cause on the streets will not hurt those of us smart enough to stay home because IT IS TOO FOGGY TO DRIVE,  only Cadillac owners.  And ,very quickly, there would be fewer Cadillacs on the streets.
           Maybe the point they are trying to make is that the comfort of the Cadillac is so intoxicating that a driver could even smile blissfully as he jets through dense fog on his way to certain doom. Happily oblivious as he hops the curb and plows headlong through the wall of the SuperMegaWareHouseFood Market to come to a rest atop the potato bin in the produce section with the tachometer still buried and the rear wheels uselessly spinning . . . (Don’t worry --- no one would be hurt. The SuperMegaWareHouseFood Market would be devoid of customers because it would be TOO FOGGY TO DRIVE to the store!)
           As the ad ends, the camera pulls back to show the Cadillac neatly slicing the fog bank in two. I wondered if the elaborate visual allusion was to equate driving a Cadillac to Moses parting the Red Sea. Could Cadillac Motor Division actually be trying to portray the act of driving their limo as an experience of Biblical proportions? Awe inspiring? Miraculous?      I sincerely hope not . . .but I think so.
           So, with a nod towards fairness in advertising, I am obligated to put MY spin on this:   Since the parting of the Red Sea happened before the handing down of the Ten Commandments, maybe Cadillac Motor Division is merely trying to say you don’t have to be a particularly good person to own a Cadillac . . .  Or, maybe they are trying to promote the worship of Golden Idols.
          OK, OK, Maybe I am reading too much into a dumb car ad. But, I think everyone who had a hand in the production of this idiotic commercial should jump into the nearest Cadillac and beat a hasty Exodus into a fog bank.

2003.05.25






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