Car Commercials – What’s Going On Here

From time to time, I write about general marketing thoughts, questions, ideas, etc., and this is one of them.

The other night, I was watching television and happened to see a commercial by Dodge for its new Durango truck and, after the 30 seconds, I’m sitting there asking myself, are they serious? Does Dodge really think this creative presentation, message, experience is going to motivate and/or interest me, or anyone else for that matter, enough to want to learn and inquire more about the truck? But, as I was pondering that commercial, another one came on from BMW and, here too, I am left wondering, are they serious? Who in their right mind comes up with this creative and, to go one further, who signs off on this nonsense. Sorry if I am hurting someone’s creative feelings but, can you honestly tell me that someone is going to buy or become interested in buying a BMW, because a fuel tanker plane hovers over a convertible BMW, lowers a refueling boom and then proceeds to release coffee into the driver’s coffee cup, as if it were refueling another aircraft in mid-flight?

You talk about marketing ROI and where the dollars go. Who keeps tabs on these types of commercials, this type of creative and says, yes, we are getting our money’s worth, so let’s keep going in that strategic/creative direction? You ask me and I haven’t a clue.

In writing this, two other car commercials come to mind, one for Mercedes-Benz and one for Cadillac. In the Mercedes commercial, we see a guy standing in the middle of the desert and driving by him at different angles and high speeds are a number of Mercedes cars. Yeah, so? All that’s happening is that the guy is getting covered with dust from the passing cars. In the Cadillac commercial, a car is racing down the salt flats and, as it does, arrows are being shot at it, as if it were a remake of some Greek or Roman war classic. The idea is that the car’s design was inspired by the shape of an arrowhead and so with all the arrows being flung at the car, this is suppose to mean or tell us something. Does it speak to you, because it certainly doesn’t speak to me.

Do the automakers, or other advertisers in general, really believe that they have to dumb things down so much in order for consumers to become interested? What about elevating the conversation/message and talking about things that really matter, like safety, fuel economy, resale value, low maintenance cost, post-sale service offerings (e.g., roadside assistance, etc.) or just to know the unique colors or options that come with the car.

Maybe it’s just me, but as the good Seth Godin says, these are all interruptions and consumers these days simply don’t like them. When will the automakers and other advertisers take note of this and realize there are plenty of other ways to engage and interact with an audience and, perhaps, this is where the valuable and limited marketing dollars are spent. Has anyone heard of a new technology/marketing channel called mobile?


3 thoughts on “Car Commercials – What’s Going On Here

  1. Matthias: Some auto commercials are done very well, no question, but due to the ones that I have seen as of late, I felt I just had to say something and ask if others have noticed or even care.

  2. Sure, I suppose this is a case of the unquantifiable nature of “brand building”. You can't really hold anybody's feet to the fire for not winning awards if that's the only direct discrete measure of success.

    I do like the ones narrated by Dexter, especially because it sounds like the car is evil and talking. Which is pretty cool.

    To close this out, best car commercials of all time were the BMW Films. I'm pretty sure Clive Owen whipping an M5 around a city corner with Madonna in the back is the reason that's my dream car.

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