Monday, 13 October 2008

That's not answering the question at ALL

Time for another: Rant by Request! Also: Rant by Proxy!

Televised car ads.

These are so infuriating that a week ago my girlfriend, in lieu of throwing something at our two grand flatscreen, said "I will buy the first car that has an ad which tells you something!"

Car ads seem to come in three flavours:
  1. Nice music, fancy photography, no voice-over or text which tells you anything more informative than a.) the brand, and b.) the model, both of which you need, because it was shot in a way that made it extremely difficult to differentiate that car from any other, or make out the number of doors, or work out if they were advertising a car or the horse that keeps getting in the way of the camera.
  2. Voice-over which throws in a lot of what sounds like information, but is actually just either a.) obvious just from looking at the thing ("With a 4-wheel drive heritage") or b.) so much par for the course that only the opposite would be worth mentioning ("An optional diesel engine"), or b.) nonsense that only sounds like English but actually isn't ("Power for when you need it most")
  3. Voice-over which attempts to swamp you with information which, if you pay close attention, you will realise is about as useful and relevant as the phrase "Part of a complete diet" or "May help prevent cancer of the left middle finger, if you're an Aquarius".
My complaint against number 1 should be fairly obvious.

Ditto number 2, which has the added sins against its name of not being faintly entertaining as a piece of video art, and insulting my intelligence.

Number 3 goes beyond insulting my intelligence and goes into an incompetent rendition of the French Knight's taunting from
Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail.

The format essentially runs like this: "Our new Fred GS has more power than the Frankelhoffer GL, more airbags than the Dogrooter SX, more rear leg room than any of the Boxsters, a longer warranty than the Fishwife CSi...." And so on.

Which, I suppose, leads me to assume that every competitor not named in each category has a better rating, which puts the car you're advertising second last at everything, by default. And I'm hardly going to buy a car which is second last at everything important, am I?

No, if you go down the comparison route then you open yourself up to me staring at the screen and saying "Yes, but your car is ugly as

About the only "comparison" that's safe is when you win an award. Car Of The Year from anybody who has a decent reputation (
Wheels, the collected total of European magazines, that sort of thing). That says something. Not much, admittedly, because I doubt very much that Wheels applied the Wolfhound Test or had my attitude towards badly designed controls, but it says something.

No, I'm afraid that if you're going to say anything at all in a car ad, your options are quite limited:

  • Brand
  • Model
  • Engine choices
  • Price
  • Seating and space
  • Awards (but be careful. "Most likely to be stolen and used in a ram raid", for example, might not work in your favour.)
  • Performance, but if you go on about 0-60 times I really will switch off. Fuel economy is good, proof of handling and ride prowess is good, saying that you are .5seconds faster to the speed limit than anyone else is irrelevant.
And that's about it.

All a dick-size competition will reveal about you is that you're insecure and trying to hide something.

All a nicely shot piece of video art says is that spent money on the advertising that should have been spent on that nasty cheap-feeling bit of plastic that covers up the fuse-box.

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