Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Wait, what?

Volvo and Renault. Two quite competent car manufacturing giants, there's no doubting that. I am, and will always be, an Audi fan, both emotionally, aesthetically and intellectually, but before I begin my rant, I must say that I have a fair amount of respect for both Renault and Volvo.  My experience with our Volvo V50 T5 was okay; we had some leakage and electronic issues (not at the same time), and I was never taken with the weak green displays or the T5 status. Things are looking up, though, because Volvo might soon build a car  that looks something like their concepts and finally step into the 21st century. I've had little experience with Renault's, but one or two of them are quite fetching.

Now, you would expect such motoring megaliths to have enormous expenditure dedicated solely to marketing, and for them to produce advertising campaigns as elegant and sublime as (some of) their cars. This has proven not to be the case. Within a matter of a few days of each other, I was struck by the latest in marketing pitches from both companies.

First, and arbitrarily so, there's
Their ad campaign runs something like this

Which ultimately boils down to:
There's more to life than a Volvo
That's why you drive one.

So wait, hold on. I always thought that "There's more to life than [insert unworthy cause here]" meant that said cause was a waste of time, and not the be-all and end-all of life. The phrase is usually heard in  the admonishment of (or in the yearning of) a fool. I know that's true of very few cars, but that's no excuse for a car company to say it about their own product. There's a certain amount of artistic license that's necessary in marketing. If you make crap cars, don't say that you do. More on that later.
Sure, there's a bunch of feel-good stuff, the kind of stuff most people wish filled their lives to the seams. They fit in a quick bit about how 'there's the car that gets that' (understands it, or facilitates it, I wonder?) but honestly, when I'm flicking past this in a magazine or on a webpage, I'm really only going to read the part that's a nice dark black, not that shrinking grey of the rest. And then the nonsensical first line is cemented in insanity by the second.
But that's just me.

Then there's
I wish I could've found a video of the advertisement I saw. It's something like

'Remember when you said you'd never cut your hair? [picture of a hippie looking garage band], 
Remember when you said you'd never love again? [romantic silouettes]
[insert other cliches in the same vein]

[silence, fade to black]
Remember when you said you'd never drive a Renault? 
[fade to white and a Megan Coupe drives onto the scene, music in some emotional major key]'
Minds are changing.

I forget exactly how the advert ends, because I never hear it over the sound of my jaw hitting the floor.
There's no way they just said that.
But they did.
Once again, someone dropped the ball (shaped like a bullet, most likely on their foot), and someone else (equally dim) signed a piece of paper saying that it was a good idea. It went all the way to production and broadcasting without a single person saying, 'Hang on a minute...'
Because what they're basically saying is... well: "Remember when you said you'd never drive a Renault?"
My response: 'Oh yeah, I do recall something like that... now why was that again? Oh yes, I remember...'
It's bad enough that they're challenging beliefs that are often rooted in a person's idealist soul, even long after they've (been forced to) cast them off, cut their hair and settled down behind a picket fence. Think about it, first loves, follies of youth; they're memories, usually fond, that one might bury, but never truly relinquish. But forget about those implications; back to the sentence itself.
They're unabashedly and unequivocally admitting that before today, the cars they made were absolute crap, and that everyone knew it. But it's okay now, because you can throw off the rusted shackles of Renault's apparently widespread reputation for being rubbish, and buy one.
Yes, that's very convincing.


An update. As of yesterday (20th January 2010, Volvo adverts now say 'There's more to life in a Volvo'. I guess someone finally pointed it out to them...

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