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Commericials That Make You Wonder

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Commercials that Make You Wonder

Television commercials are supposed to sell a company's product. Sometimes the way the company goes about it leaves you scratching your head. After a slew of generally well-received automotive Super Bowl ads, I thought I'd cover some of the head scratchers I've noticed over the years. Sometimes, you have to stop and say "Hey.. .wait a minute...."


This is not the recent Mercedez-Benz commercial that caught my attention; however, this one is a close second. The commercial that really caught my attention is the one where presumed MB owners talk about how the car assisted them in stopping and staying awake, with one driver quipping something like, "I didn't know the person in front of me had stopped...but my car did."

Yes, MB has some innovative and helpful features in their vehicles. However, blogs and discussions have already been talking about how lackadaisical drivers are ... how unfocused they are on the actual task of driving. Thus, my concern is that people will become even more "dependent" on features in vehicles that, in essence, condone unfocused driving. In turn, similar to the proposed mandatory backup camera, the developing dependence will foster more distractions, leading to less attention to the act of driving. Then, should any of these systems fail, more serious ... and preventable ... collisions could happen....

Cannibalistic Sibling Rivalry


This 1987 Caprice Classic commercial, for a nameplate that is quickly becoming my favorite above Monte Carlo [for what should be obvious reasons to those that know me], was on the air at a time when GM (and, admittedly, other automakers) were beginning to claim that anything FWD is less costly than anything RWD. Yet, this ad, as well as others today ... a Silverado or a Camaro can be purchased for less than an "impala" sedan ... seems to prove otherwise. Yes, Oldsmobile was a higher price point vehicle than Chevy, but in their haste to defend the overall switch to FWD [Chevy's storied nameplates "Malibu", "Monte Carlo", "Impala" and "Nova" eventually all fell victim to FWD, with "Nova" being the first in the mid-1980s as part of a joint-venture with, of all companies, Toyota], the automakers did not tend to clarify their claims regarding the cost of FWD vs. the cost of RWD.

However, more annoying about this commercial is one GM entity "taking on" or "challenging" another so specifically and publicly. This, in my opinion, is self-defeating, particularly given the irony of the FWD vs. RWD arguments [besides, why even compare a FWD car to a RWD car, given the differences between the two drivetrains?]. Yes, Chevy/Olds ARE sales rivals; however, by attacking another "sibling" in this way, you are hurting the overall company. Comparisons like this should be made to automakers that are not siblings ... to boost sales within the TOTAL company.

The Odd Old Comparison

This 2011 Toyota Highlander advertisement is just odd. What exactly is Toyota attempting to say be comparing a 2011 Toyota to a 1990s GM stablemate that garnered a lot of sales when it was new ... and still is relevant to many people today? If Toyota's thought process is to remind people that GM is living in the past, they missed the boat by a few years. Besides, these GM wagons were and are still cool ... and they provided families with an alternative to what was quickly becoming the "mini van" culture.

So, what has over 10 years of advancements in the auto industry gained us? Not much, if you compare a few facts....

Gas mileage is relatively even, though the GM wagon edges out the Highlander on the highway. The Buick Roadmaster version of that GM wagon has a V8 rated at 17/26 mpg; the Highlander is rated 18/24 mpg. That GM V8 had only 10 less horsepower than the V6 Highlander at 270 but had a stump ripping 330 lb-ft of torque. A number that Toyotas "high tech" 4.8 liter DOHC V8 with variable valve timing just barely misses.

Seating is won by the GM wagon, by one over the Highlander. The Buick seats 8.

Towing is won by the GM wagon. Highlander's max towing is 3500; the GM wagon, with the tow package, can tow up to 5000.

And the Toyota is considered progress???

Besides all that, what parents buy a car with the only criteria of making sure their kid looks cool and isn't teased?

Displaced Nostalgia


While I actually like this recent commercial, it makes me wonder just a tad. Several years ago, in my ongoing discussions about FWD vs. RWD coupled with the genealogy of some more-recent models, such as the current FWD "impala", someone reminded me that Chevy is in the business of SELLING cars, not protecting/remembering/observing their history. I was told, the fact that heritage names have been slapped on generic FWD cars should not bother anyone. But, if that is the case, why are we now to be moved/inspired by this company's history, when the only thing "heritage" about the cars is the name on the trunk?

With those four commercials noted, maybe I've sparked your thoughts regarding other commercials that are annoying or bug the heck out of you (such as the Lexus commercials depicting spouses giving each other vehicles for Christmas). How about you? What are some commercials that make you wonder what the ad agency was thinking?

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  • 3 weeks later...

Very well done article, Cort. I'm glad to see you writing.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks, Z, for the comments.

It's good to be writing again. I need to get back to it more often and, given some new projects on the horizon, hopefully that will be the case.

Cort | 37.m.IL.pigValve.pacemaker | 5 Monte Carlos + 1 Caprice Classic |

MCs.CC + CHD.models.HO.legos.RadioShows + RoadTrips.us66 = http://www.chevyasylum.com/cort

"Can you make folks feel what you feel inside?" __ David Allen Coe __ 'The Ride'

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