advertising and other stuff. no, really.

Monday, January 25, 2010

It runs the same type of ads or it gets the bailout.

Yeah, I know, dead horsepower beaten. A Honda spot I saw this weekend coupled with the latest spot for Kitt the Dodge Charger above encapsulates a divide between advertising for a brand in trouble—and one that’s not.

You watch this Dodge campaign and the first thing that comes to mind is how it tries to reawaken your inner Manville, you know, the one suppressed by all that car insurance shopping? Look at all the testosteroom in that trunk!

Zero to manhood in 72 months with no money down.

I watch it and think that if the brand wasn’t in trouble, I could care less what type of spot they run.

A cringe-worthy Honda spot has no effect on whether I would buy one because of the positive vibe I still have with the brand. Nobody talks about Honda or a Toyota in a negative light, except maybe Howie Long.

Why? Because despite an industry downturn, their core brands remain solid from a quality point of view.

Dodge and GM’s recent campaigns feel like they’re not giving potential customers enough credit for knowing what the current state of things really is. Don’t patronize me and tell me gas milage has improved when I know it’s still not good enough in many cases and practically even in others.

As such, a healthy brand could run an absurd spot like Honda’s polygons, or even one like this vintage 1970 pre-Has it got a hemi? Charger spot and get away with it:

But only if it didn’t have serious ground to make up first.

Like the negative image people have about Detroit product and it’s generally awful resale value. (To a lesser degree, the bailouts the companies took factor in as well.)*

It’ll take more than sardonic copy from Dexter dude Michael C. Hall though.** Watching that second clip, it’s somewhat telling that the “You could be Dodge material” isn’t radically different than the current “I am...” positioning—40 years later.

While I’ve driven a 2009 Charger and the damn thing does perform, I can’t pretend the *other* baggage that comes with the brand isn’t a factor, even if it wants you to think otherwise. For now, I’ll stick with the Camry’s 0-60 time over the Charger’s.

Because Real Men need resale value too.

*I’d give Ford a pass even though some of their advertising is same old, same old Real Man™ truck love, they’ve still focused on offering smaller vehicles to compete with Japan and a younger crowd.

**On a technical note: What’s with the dusty front tires, yet clean rear tread?


Mark Wanczak said...

"**On a technical note: What’s with the dusty front tires, yet clean rear tread?"

My guess is lots of burnouts, probably the only thing a new Charger is good for.

Nice criticism of domestic car advertising. As a car guy and adv. professional, it's a topic always on my mind.

mtlb said...

It's a small detail, and more aesthetics for me than anything. Aficionados will likely catch that detail on the rear. Since burnouts work better on smooth surfaces though (like parking garage pavement), I’m wondering where the dirty wheels came from given the rest of the car is immaculate.

Mark Wanczak said...

I can't think of a good reason that explains the dirty front tires. Perhaps Dexter was cleaning up after another uncontrollable urge to kill?