Deciphering Modern Meaningless Car Commercial Copy

Used to be, a car’s tagline meant something. BMW: The Ultimate Driving Machine — my “machine” is better than your hunk of junk. Subaru: Inexpensive And Built To Stay That Way — a bold promise that built the brand. Volvo: Drive Safely — a short comforting reminder that your car is built like a tank compared to most others.

They weren’t all good. Toyota’s “Oh What A Feeling” and its parade of leaping idiots was an embarrassment to anybody working in advertising (though it apparently worked, or at least, didn’t unsell a quality car). Chevy’s “The Heartbeat Of America” was pure patriotic poppycock propaganda, but again, it worked.

But now, a new “vagueness” has infected the category. Like so:

Mazda: Feel Alive

Feel ALIVE? FEEL Alive? Mazda feels very strongly about it, they’ve trademarked it. Watch the spot. The copy is equally vague and pretentious. Can we surmise that driving a Mazda will give us an “Aliveness Feel” that other autos won’t? Are they guaranteeing your safety? If you’re completely dead inside, will a Mazda fix that?

Some of you will remember a previous Mazda tagline: Zoom-Zoom. Silly, but at least it referenced cars/car sounds. You wanna “feel alive”? Go hike the fucking Grand Canyon. You can drive there in your new Mazda and compare the “feelings”. (Note: In 2012, Jaguar also questioned your level of aliveness.)

Peugeot: Unboring The Future

What about “the present”, you French grandees? Because the scary, dystopian future certainly doesn’t need any “unboring”. What is boring as piss is the commercial Peugeot recently released to launch this inane hash-tagline, one that exactly nobody on Twitter not directly associated with Peugeot is using. You (and your agency, BETC, France) need to unhinge your heads from your asses.

Lexus: Experience Amazing

Lastly, we’re not gonna talk (much) about this tagline that makes me say “SHUT THE FUCK UP” out loud every time I hear it. It’s not new, but it’s so baldly stupid compared to the now retired “The Relentless Pursuit Of Perfection.”

What needs to be discussed now is the copy in this new spot for the Lexus ES called “Stolen”. Watch it, and listen to the toxic hooey breathy voiceover man is spewing:

“The all new Lexus ES is stolen…hijacked from dreams…taken from the souls of artists…”

Woah, slow down there, James Joyce. Are we talking about living or dead artists? And do the souls come standard? And do I get to pick which artists’ souls get installed in the engine (where else would you add souls to a car)?

More pointedly, Who is writing (and approving) all this absolutely meaningless garbage? The responsible agency here is Lexus’s long-time ad partner, Team One, Los Angeles.

Does the above copy make you want to buy a Lexus? Or does it make you want to quit your job, move to the south of France, and start painting again?

We’re selling cars here, CARS! Think Small, pretentious copywriters. That’s where big ideas come from.

SOURCE: This post was first published in the November issue of Swedish magazine Resume (website link here).

Copywriter/Copyranter. My hockey wrist shot is better than yours.

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