There are two car ad campaigns running right now that I hate, and it's hard for me to say which I hate more. The first is the Chevy Truck ad campaign. They feature John Mellencamp singing his patriotic, rugged manly song, "This Is Our Country."
(Actually, is even a song, or is it just a jingle? An ad jingle for a jingo ad? Anyway.)
The song runs over a montage of men doing manly things, along with little tag lines meant to show in stark relief how pointedly NOT wimpy they are. (And by not wimpy I mean not like you or me.)
Sample: showing a fork lift lifting a huge stack of lumber, the tag line reads: this is our breakfast. Or: a couple of good ole' boys at a coffee shop, with the tag line: this is our chat room.
Oh, snap! All you people who work at desks, and use computers and whatnot? You got served!
The whole commercial has an overt political tone, too, which I don't want to over-emphasize. But the clear subtext of the commercials is: people who chat at coffee shops, do hard physical labor, and drive trucks that get 10 MPG? They’re patriots. People who do not...are not.
The message comes through loud and clear: “This is our country... (not yours).” (And Woody Guthrie does flips in his grave.)
The whole commercial is a procession of shameful pandering to base instincts. Right, and that’s so different form other commercials I know, but it seems even more crass to me. Drive a low mileage truck? Don’t use a computer? Don’t read newspapers? It's okay, buddy! You're a patriot!
And then there are the Volkswagen “Safe Happens” ads. I can summarize these fairly succinctly:
Some people – people just like you and your friends, in fact – are driving along, having a conversation - the kind of conversation you might have with your friends, in fact. And then BLAM! Out of nowhere, some a**hole runs into them.
It’s sudden and jarring. It gets your attention. It makes you never want to ride in a VW again.
That’s a great idea for an ad campaign! “Let’s show our car getting wrecked over and over and over....”
“Let’s connect our brand, in consumers’ minds, with traumatic accidents.”
In one of the VW ads, 2 guys are riding along chatting, when BLAM! Just like that, out of nowhere, they get hit by a car. Well, actually a truck. A pickup truck.
I think I heard music coming from the truck: “This is our country…”