Drew Dowdell - March 26, 2012 - CheersandGears.com
All companies do it. They make outrageous claims about their products in an attempt to sell you something. That is advertising and I accept it. A lot of times, these exaggerations are just playful and funny attempts to sell you on an idea and no one takes the exaggeration seriously.
Take for example the Chevy truck ad that ran during the Super Bowl this year. Chevy made the claim that their trucks are so dependable that the truck, along with a box of twinkies, could survive the apocalypse while Dave and his Ford truck couldn’t. Clearly no one is going to hold Chevy to that claim. It was just a funny commercial filled with sight gags that Ford ended up taking too seriously, which only ended up giving the commercial more attention than it might otherwise have deserved.
In Germany, Axe runs a series of advertisements where there nerdy guy spokesmodel uses some of their douchebag-in-a-can bodyspray and in the next scene he is in an inflatable rubber duckie kiddie pool filled with soap suds and wrestling 5 bikini-clad supermodels. Not really laugh inducing, but clearly so outrageous as to not be taken seriously.
The other kind of commercial is the informative type. These are typically filled with facts and figures with very little in the way of laughs. The advertiser may make some inflated statistical claims like “best in class”, "best ever", or “better than the leading brand”, but typically nothing that would cause anything more than a post fight on an internet automotive forum. Anything approaching deception usually gets the advertiser a tap on the shoulder from the FCC as more than a few pharmaceutical companies have found out.
So understanding that, I’m going to pick on the 2013 Lexus GS commercial called “Resistance” for two reasons. First because Lexus keeps running the commercial over and over, and second because the claims made are disingenuous at best and deceptive at worst.
Before we go on, watch the spot for yourself:
If you’re a car person, even if you’re a Lexus fan, the hair on your neck has to stand up at Lexus’ gumption here and their assumption of how dumb you the consumer are.
“The draw of the past is a powerful thing” the announcer says while we watch an ancient T.V. and rotary dial telephone go skidding backwards. In the next breath, he says, “But we simply couldn’t repeat history, we had to create it.” Great! Awesome! Lexus is going to show us a car with freakin laser beams for headlights! It will run on liquid hot magma!
“… with leading edge safety technology”. Ok.. well I guess that’s good but it is kind of boring. Still, let’s hear what this leading edge safety technology is.
“... available blind spot monitoring”. Ok, but that’s not new. Volvo introduced that in 2008 on the S40 and it filtered to much of the Ford line for 2009. Blind spot monitoring is “available” on the 2011 Ford Fiesta, if I’m shelling out 45 thousand clams for a Lexus, something like blind spot monitoring better be made standard. What else are you going to show me Lexus?
“....available night view”. Throw me a freakin bone here! Night vision was available on the 2000 Cadillac Deville 13 years ago, so it isn’t “leading edge technology”. This is where Lexus really insults the intelligence of Lexus owners directly. The Toyota specific NightView has been available in the Lexus LX since 2002 and in the Lexus LS since 2009. Touting this feature isn’t going to win any conquest buyers from the German brands either. BMW and Mercedes have offered night vision in their lineups since 2005 with Audi coming to the party in 2010.
2000 Cadillac Deville NighVision promotional drawing
Last chance Lexus, what can you show me that is new, leading edge technology on this 2013 GS? Give me a reason to buy it.
“....and heads up display”. WHAT? That’s it!? Heads-up display came out on the 1988 Chevrolet Corvette and it quickly filtered to a lot of other GM cars. Visit any General Motors, Nissan, BMW, or even a Lexus certified pre-owned dealer, and they’ll be able to show you something with a heads up display. There are far more dead models that offered heads-up display than there are models that currently offer it. Lexus, step over here for a minute I want to talk to you privately. A good rule of thumb about making claims on leading edge technology is this: If Oldsmobile offered the technology on its cars 20 years ago, you cannot call it leading edge.
1989 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme dashboard and HUD
“The all new, 2013 Lexus GS. There’s no going back”.... except to grave rob leading edge technology from cars from the past... and Lexus, what was that quote at the beginning of the commercial again? Oh yea: “But we simply couldn’t repeat history, we had to create it.” None of the technology cited in the ad was created by you.. and it is all old history in terms of automotive technology.
I don’t want to turn this into a critique of the car. I haven’t driven the 2013 Lexus GS yet, (Lexus, call me, maybe I can make it up to you) and this new GS looks like a very strong contender in the competitive mid-size luxury segment. It is entirely possible that Lexus manages to combine these technologies in such a way that makes it new and unique to the field. But in terms of advertising, Lexus needs to find a way to make its product stand out in that competitive crowd. Pointing out technology from over 20 years ago as “leading edge” isn’t going to do it.