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Automaker commercials drive me crazy

Like most of you, I love all things automotive. But the way in which some automakers go about hawking their wares on TV these days is making my face twitch.

Anyone who wastes time watching TV (me included) has surely seen the current run of laughable Buick commercials. The message is apparently intended to let folks know that today’s Buick is an advanced version of the brand, unrecognizable from previous models. In the ads, folks keep commenting about not being able to recognize the vehicle as a Buick (“Where are you?... I’m out front... I’m in the Buick... I don’t see a Buick; Hey, the neighbors bought a new car... what is it? Gee, I don’t know... etc.). I’m paraphrasing the actors’ lines, but you get the drift.

Are you kidding me? Nobody sees the huge Buick logo on the grille? You know... the three-badged medallion that’s instantly recognized as the Buick logo, and that screams, ”Attention everyone in the universe: I’m a BUICK!”

Are these people blind or just brain dead? Either way they shouldn’t be driving if they’re that dumb. Gee, it’s got a friggin’ enormous Buick logo on the grille... maybe it’s a Lexus or a Ferrari, or maybe it’s a Rolls Royce... nah... Nissan? Maybe it’s a Bugatti. Seriously?

Or how about the new Ford commercials wherein a bunch of “regular people” get a chance to poke at and drive a slew of new Ford vehicles. Hey, this one has Wi-Fi... that’s the car for me. Yeah, that’s the reason to choose a new car. Let’s ignore the powertrain, the suspension and brakes. Apparently the only thing that’s important to a generation of smartphone addicts is that their car has Wi-Fi connectivity. Sorry... this kind of pandering just makes my blood boil. Ford makes some great vehicles (relatively speaking, of course). But using Wi-Fi as the big selling point? Keep your eyes on the road and stop playing with your friggin’ toys.

Of course, we can’t ignore the Lincoln ads that feature actor Matthew McConaughey’s smooth-talking and smug introspective thoughts about his sublime love for his ride (“I drove a Lincoln even before I was paid to drive one,” etc.). While claiming that he doesn’t drive one to be cool, his lines in the commercials are obviously trying to convey just the opposite... that he is the self-proclaimed master of cool. News flash: Steve McQueen was the definition of cool. Let it go at that, and let’s move on.

I admire most automakers for the design and performance of some of their models, including both domestic and import brands. But Subaru’s commercials send me around the bend. I like Subarus, but the ads never talk about the cars... instead they spend time talking about the warm ‘n’ fuzzy feeling you get when you take your kids out for ice cream or when you take a trip through the countryside to visit gray-haired grandma. Hey, if you want me to buy the car, tell me about the car. If I want warm ‘n’ fuzzy, I’ll pet my dog or cat.

And, just to tie up my little tirade, let’s not forget the VW commercial for the Passat. The scene depicts a father trying to play catch with his young son in the front yard. The father can’t throw the ball, and neither can the son. The point of the commercial is supposed to be that “at least the father will be able to pass down the VW when the son is old enough to drive.” Really? Poking fun of a guy who wants to spend time with his kid and doesn’t possess the skills of a pro ball player? It’s like saying “Hey, don’t try to bond with your son... if you want to be father of the year, just make sure you toss him the keys to your worn-out Passat after you buy a new one.” Grrr.

I realize that I could never make it as a script writer for a car company’s TV commercials. I’d actually want to talk about the product that they’re trying to sell. Silly me.

If I’m in the market for a new car or truck, tell me about the stuff that matters... tell me about the engine, the transmission, the steering, suspension and brakes. I don’t need an electronic entertainment and communications system that rivals that found in the space shuttle, and I don’t care about how driving a specific vehicle will make me look cool. I already know that I’m not cool, and I accept that fact.

After all, there’s only one Steve McQueen (and we all know what car he drove).   ●

Agree? Disagree? Send your comments to mike.mavrigian@bobit.com.

For more Straight Talk, see:

I hate thieves

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The value of photos

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