Tuesday, May 30, 2017

This will get me unhired

It should comes as no surprise, but this blog is actually nothing more than unabashed self-promotion.

And it works.

I can't tell you how many people call me out of the blue, say they've been reading RoundSeventeen and then ask if I'd be available for a gig.

Today's post is going to knock that number down by one.

Because after reading this, there's a good chance the agencies, the creative directors and maybe even the clients will say, "I don't want Siegel working on my car account."

Frankly, I don't care.

Because I look out onto the vast wasteland of car advertising and feel the need to say what needs to be said.









Stop me when I've hit a false note.

I don't even need to name the brands. And frankly it wouldn't matter. They're all the same. I can't tell the _______ spots from the _______ spots. Which look remarkably like the __________ campaign.

It's as if they're all reading from the same playbook. All trotting out the same formulas.

Formula 1 -- Open on shot of car coming straight at camera. Add beat-driven European house music. Intercut with impossibly-attractive models in expensive, fresh-pressed clothing. End with stupid line about Driving Loud or Drive Your Passion or We Speak Driving. Big Logo.

Formula 2 -- Slow thoughtful music. Long lingering shots of car in slow motion. Celebrity-read aspirational tripe ripped from the journals of Walt Whitman or an unused Tony Robbins motivational tape. Big Logo.

Formula 3 -- Obtuse story about obtuse people with obtuse fetishized collections. We follow two hipsters, Jeremy and Sunshine as they criss cross the country in their new _______  Crossover vehicle, finding and buying antique tubas. End on couple putting large tuba in their large cargo area. Big Logo.

I've seen it all. What I don't see amongst the billions of dollars being wasted on on such video eyewash is anything resembling persuasion. I can't remember the last time I saw a car spot and said, "oooh, I wish I had that car" or "I wish I had a car with that thing" or "I wish I knew more about that thing on that car."

Am I saying I could do better?

In this day and age when copywriters and art directors are given 24 hours to crack a brief. When they are expected to work at the Long Table of Mediocrity™. And when every goddamned original idea must get past the watchful eye of a 27 year old planner with proven consumer insight and uncanny expertise way beyond his or her years.

No, I'm not sure I could do any better.


Anonymous said...

That's mostly a problem in America. If you look at car advertising in countries like Argentina, Mexico, Brazil and some places in Europe, you'll find some good stuff. But then again, they've been consistently good.

Anonymous said...

You missed one:

VO of narrator talking about how X is so different from the competition, and you will be too if you drive it. Shot of X, and it looks like every other car out there. This is especially true of SUVs, which most people, I'm convinced, couldn't tell one from the other, even luxury brands vs. run-of-the-mill, if you tore the badges off.

JohnA in LA said...

BTDT over and over. But differently. 😉

Mike Ronkoske said...

Strategists need to be held accountable to deliver sharp, creatively interesting problems that get at the heart of the issue that advertising could and should solve. Better problems = better briefs, which should give creatives runway to make more meaningful work.

Théo said...

For status-insecure luxury car buyers, there is also always a woman in the shiksa seat watching the man drive in a manful manner. It's all to appeal to the beta-male viewers of prime-time network hour-long procedurals where the myth of alpha-male camaraderie is the only enduring storyline, as the alpha-male heroes outmuscle the beta-male creeps tormenting their ladies (whereas in real life it is the alpha males who excel at abuse). Needing a luxury car is essential to salary-extending obedience and the proliferation of McMansion exurbs that require tankers of petroleum to get to and from every day for 30 years. So these ads that seem lame on the surface are actually the real heroes, undergirding our 560-horsepower, climate-controlled, Bluetooth-enabled, all-American way of life. You got a problem with that?

Payo said...

The repetition of the "our car is a real head-turner" trope has got to stop. All those overly attractive models in their muted grey Banana Republic outfits only looking up from their cell phones and tablets (what an biting, incisive commentary on technology's dehumanizing effect on humanity!) because the new Lexus/Mercedes/Lincoln/Cadillac/Etc./Etc. is passing by the modernistic downtown or reclaimed warehouse district... yawn. Car companies don't try to do anything innovative with their advertising because their cars aren't innovative. And deep down they know it. So they sell the same vehicles the same way they have for decades.