an Ad a Day

A look at the marketing that surrounds us.

Archive for the ‘Cars’ Category

Vintage Friday: Fairy Tricycle

Posted by Rosepixie on June 25, 2010

This is a tricycle newspaper ad from sometime in the late 1800s.

I’m sorry it’s so tiny.  The text reads:

Cripples, ladies and girls, if you want air or exercise, buy a Fairy Tricycle – foot or hand [unknown word].

Bicycles cheap for all.

What I found interesting about this ad was that it grouped cripples and women together.  Now, thinking about what women at the time were wearing, they were pretty restricted, but women did ride bicycles at the time.  Not only were “bloomers” invented to make it easier, but many women managed just fine in skirts.

Still, they weren’t really supposed to exert themselves, so this ad may have been partially suggesting that this tricycle was a way to get a bit of outside exercise with little actual exertion (after all, even a cripple could manage it just fine!).

Regardless, I think it’s still an interesting relic of an earlier time.  Think about the fact that this ad came out the same time women were making some of the biggest strides in our history – getting degrees at universities for the first time, demanding voting rights and rights of ownership and inheritance, opening schools and banks without men to guide or oversee them or even just pretend to.  It shows a pretty stark picture of the kind of thinking they were up against, doesn’t it?  Because this ad didn’t come out of a vacuum (like the ads today don’t) and it’s way of thinking had to have been at least expected as the norm for it’s audience.  How much more interesting is it, then, that the advances been made and fought for at that time were happening?

And how interesting it is to compare it to the views we see in today’s ads.


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Toyota Prius: Nature People

Posted by Rosepixie on June 10, 2010

This is a recent ad for the Toyota Prius.

So this is one of those commercials that I had to watch a couple of times before I really had any idea what to say about it.  I’m beginning to feel like car ads are more about the gimmick in the ad than about the car itself.  Maybe it’s a bet between car ad designers or something – whoever can get away with the most random thing in their commercial wins!  I don’t think this is winning (I’m guessing the current front runner is either one of Kia’s ads or something from Asia), but it’s certainly weird.

The problem here is that this ad is so busy distracting viewers with the weird people-as-nature thing (which, by the way, strips actual nature out of the picture entirely) that it doesn’t really tell us anything about the car.  We get some vague statements said by a voice that is typically the kind giving us information, so I think they’re hoping we’ll think it’s information, but “more power and less smog” is not actually informative.  It’s fuzzy and unspecific.

And the people, randomly popping up like the munchkins from the beginning of MGM’s The Wizard of Oz, give more of an impression that the car is creating nature than that it’s helping to preserve it.  That is definitely a confusion of message as well.

This is just such an odd ad.  It feels like it should be selling something far less serious than a car.  I’m not sure what it would be selling, actually.  Flower costumes, maybe?

Posted in Cars | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Hyundai: Because Kids are Dumb

Posted by Rosepixie on May 23, 2010

Hyundai recently came out with a couple of commercials for their cars (the Tuscon and Sonata are the ones mentioned) with a common theme.

Both of these ads mock teenagers and play on the common adult prejudices against them.  They give statistics about how many new teen drivers will “join you on the road” this year and encourage you to get a car with better safety features.  Because obviously, all of those teenagers are a major threat and are more likely to kill you than not, right?

What the ads don’t show is anything actually relating to teenagers driving.  They show teenagers doing other things (playing a videogame that is all about not driving sanely and something completely random with a giant slingshot), but we never see a teen in a car or hear any information about how many of those teens will get into accidents or what kinds of accidents or anything useful like that.  It’s entirely a scare tactic.

And that’s really why I don’t like these commercials.  I hate ads that use scare tactics.  They’re incredibly disrespectful to their customers.  Not to mention that this one seems to ignore the idea the perhaps if these cars have such great safety features maybe the very people they should be marketing them to is those teen drivers and their parents, who are much more likely to need the safety features than just some random person who’s irrationally afraid of teenagers.

There’s a great post about these ads over at FiveThirtyEight that points out that elderly drivers are the other major group disproportionately involved in a large number of accidents on the road, but they would never be the targets of such ads like teenagers are here because they have political representation in a way that kids and teenagers don’t.  It’s a great post and well worth reading.

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Honda Insight: Simplicity

Posted by Rosepixie on May 6, 2010

This is a magazine ad for the Honda Insight.

The text reads:

You know who could use a car like this?  Everyone.

The Insight.  A new hybrid from Honda.  Honda and hybrid.  AKA, reliability and efficiency, two thing everyone can use.  Other useful things: an innovative battery, split fold-down rear seats and 43 hwy mpg.  The hybrid designed and priced for us all.  The new Insight.  From Honda.  For everyone.

I’m not normally a big fan of car ads.  I think that they generally try too hard and get too gimmicky.  I like this one, though, because it doesn’t feel like it’s doing either of those things.  It’s clean, simple and informative.  It’s got a strong, confident opening statement, but since we all pretty much expect car ads to feel that way anyway, it’s not really a problem.

The blurb at the bottom is a little light on information, but it focuses on the main strengths of the car – that it’s a hybrid and that it’s got Honda’s reliable record and reputation behind it.  It also lists three features that are strong selling points and suggests that it’s reasonably priced.

This ad is a little light on details, but since you’re going to be hearing about all those details when you go in to look at the car anyway (or could easily find them on the Honda website if you want more information), it’s not necessary to list every spec in the ad.  It lists more useful information than many car ads I see.  The mpg is way more useful to know than the fact that a car has a decorative light display.

So I like this ad a lot.  It’s simple, the basic color palette is enough to catch your eye, and it’s got just enough information to pique interest and encourage potential customers to learn more about it.

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Toyota 4Runner: 4Camping?

Posted by Rosepixie on April 18, 2010

These are two magazine ads for the Toyota 4Runner.

Both of these ads have the same feel – that this car will be great for roughing it on an outdoor adventure.  I’m not entirely sure what the car has to do with “tree-grub brulee” and I’m pretty sure it can’t actually time travel back to the Paleozoic era, but you get the idea.

The graphic design on these ads is great.  The pages feel busy, but actually aren’t that cluttered.  There are great details like distressed, browned looking paper (it’s actually the high-gloss pages of a magazine) and a fake torn corner on the second one.  The various graphics on each ad are simple, but evoke the camping/outdoors-y feel very well.

I have no idea if this car actually is a great camping or exploring vehicle (I always associated Jeeps more with that sort of thing), but the ads do a pretty good job of making the connection between them.  They are visually different from not only most other car ads, but most other general magazine ads as well, so they stand out.  I doubt that these ads alone would convince someone to buy this vehicle, but they absolutely might get someone to look into it where they otherwise wouldn’t have, and that’s the first step.  I actually think these ads work pretty well.  I think print ads for this sort of vehicle can be challenging, but this is a great approach.

Posted in Cars | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Vintage Friday: Oldsmobile

Posted by Rosepixie on April 9, 2010

This is a classic Oldsmobile commercial.  I believe it dates from the 1950s sometime, but don’t have an exact year.  Please let me know if you know what year it first aired!

I think it’s funny that this commercial spends so much time on what other cars are like, but I do think that it makes it’s point well.

I noticed that it’s clearly a man operating the “complicated” car and a woman operating the Oldsmobile.  While I think it’s awesome that they used a woman in this ad, I think it’s also illustrates that the company believed women were less capable or comfortable with the more complicated requirements of the other car.  This isn’t exactly complimentary and reinforces the “women aren’t good drivers” stereotype, even if only subtly.

It’s very different from the flashy, often nonsensical car commercials that come out today (many of which never mention a single feature about the car at all), isn’t it?  I actually think I’d prefer car ads that sold cars on their merits more like this one (only without the subtle sexist commentary, please).

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Toyota Yaris: Gas Bug

Posted by Rosepixie on April 1, 2010

This is a commercial for the Toyota Yaris.

I’m not really sure what to make of this commercial, actually.  It’s definitely different, but beyond that, I’m not sure what it’s telling me.  I think the message is that the car is fuel efficient.  Maybe.  But I’m not entirely sure what that has to do with weird gas-pump-bug things getting squished or cars that can duplicate themselves very much like science books describe mitosis.

The sound effects in this ad are great, though.  Even if the message is… hazy at best… the commercial is memorable and I think that is due in large part to the well chosen and perfectly timed sound effects.

I still think it’s kind of weird and have to wonder what thought process led to this, though.  What do you think?

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Dodge Charger: Because I Put Up With You…

Posted by Rosepixie on March 14, 2010

This is the Dodge Charger commercial that was aired during the Super Bowl this year.

This particular ad kind of got to me.  The things the men list (with their artfully dead faces) all sound little, but they’re presented as basically dictating every moment of the day.  From the moment they wake up, through going to work and then returning home again to start it all over, their days are dictated the inane and soul-crushing stupid little things that are implicitly imposed upon them by women (who else makes you clean out the sink and put the seat down?).  But is it really a woman’s fault that they have to sit through meetings?  Or shave?

And I guess I just resent the idea that women are so nagging and dictating that the only escape could be a car on the open road.  A car which the men get to make the decision about buying alone because cars are for men and they put up with and go alone with all the namby-pamby women shit all the time, so no one has the right to question that (again, implying that the person who would question it would be a woman).

It’s just so sexist and unnecessarily vicious.  I kind of felt like saying “guys, the solution isn’t a car, the solution is to grow a fucking spine about some things and to stop blaming the women in your lives for things that AREN’T THEIR FAULT.”

Posted in Cars | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Nissan Cube: Choose Your Colors

Posted by Rosepixie on February 25, 2010

This is an ad for the Nissan Cube.  I have two different versions of it, but it’s exactly the same ad.

The text reads:

Set preferences

It’s your space.  The Cube mobile device lets you personalize with over 40 different colorful accessories.  Go ahead and edit your dash topper, 20 color interior illumination, ripple hooks and interior appliques.  Then upgrade your storage capacity with front-door bungees and a utility pouch.  Your undos and redos are limitless.

Shift the way you move.

I’m… not even sure what to make of this.  It’s describing this car like it’s a cell phone or an mp3 player or something.  Personally, I don’t shop for cars the same way I shop for small electronics.  For one thing, I’m far less likely to die if something goes wrong with my iPod than if something goes wrong with my car.  So while I do have a preferred range of colors on my list of things to look for in a car, it’s at the bottom of the list with the things marked “optional features”.  It’s not remotely near the important stuff that actually makes me consider looking at or buying a car.

And while I realize there are people who buy new cars as frequently as they buy new cell phones, I’m guessing that they look for different features than those listed here and are generally looking for more expensive cars than this (if you can afford a new car that often, chances are you can either afford a more expensive/flashy car or you can build/fix one yourself).  So who is this aimed at?  It actually reminds me of the way salespeople used to show women the mirrors as a feature because they facilitated make-up application.  It seems rather patronizing.  What do you think?

Posted in Cars | Tagged: , , , | 5 Comments »

Harley-Davidson: Playing Both Sides

Posted by Rosepixie on February 9, 2010

These are two recent print ads from Harley-Davidson.  Both were found in magazines published within just weeks of each other.

The text of this one reads:

Join us in saluting those who defend freedom.

We’re celebrating those who keep us riding free and this November we need you to take part in it.  Visit our website and dealers to post your message of thanks and to find out how to get free military-themed downloads, posters and postcards featuring fellow rider and U.S. military supporter, Marisa Miller.  And if you’re serving or a vet, read our messages and enter our contest.  From all those who ride and enjoy the freedom you protect, we salute you.

This one reads:

It’s a free country, but have you felt like that lately?

Has the torch of liberty gotten a little dimmer?  Do we still live in the home of the brave?  As long as there are people willing to ask the questions, we’ll do our part to make sure a Harley-Davidson is the answer.  Others may pull back in times like these, we’re launching 34 new ways to show the world what living free means, starting at $6.999.  Haven’t been liberated yet by the experience of riding?  Learn to ride in just a few days at an H-D dealer.  Screw it.  Let’s Ride.

Freedom ain’t quiet.  Raise your voice.

I found this a really interesting pair of ads.  While they aren’t completely opposing, they do sort of present opposite ideas.  The first one presents the idea that while we are free, we need to protect it and celebrate those who are doing so on the battlefield.  The second one presents the idea that while we are supposed to be free, it increasingly doesn’t feel like it, so we should be slightly rebellious and exercise not only the freedoms we have, but the freedoms we should have.  As I said, these aren’t completely incompatible ideas, but they are sort of representative of two rather opposing viewpoints in the national discourse.

I think that they are both very well done ads (although I’m not terribly fond of the pin-up girl thing).  Both manage to not only clearly articulate their ideas, but also convey the feeling of it in every element of the images and graphic designs, from the typefaces chosen to the layouts and color palettes used.  They are both striking ads and do a great job of being completely what they seem to want to be.  I just found the vast difference between them interesting.  What do you think?

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