Manufacturer car advertising is always rich in hyperbole, we understand that; but there is a limit. When the latest advertisement for the new Renault JamJar comes on the television the background slurping noise that you may faintly hear in the distance is the sound of my heart sinking. We are asked to believe that this clearly wealthy, attractive yet divorcing couple will swing around in the road and go to their ‘beach house’ – which is in fact a bijou villa somewhere wonderful – for a bit of post-marital nookie.
We see them again in a magnificent boardroom with a battery of hugely expensive lawyers, splitting hairs over who did what to whom and who gets to keep what. With their lifestyle clearly established I’m pretty sure that here in the real world they would do their motoring in something a little less undistinguished.
It’s not wrong; the companies want to sell cars which is fair enough, but it is very irritating because the ad says virtually nothing about the automobile, except, in this instance, that it has some form of grip control for those private roads down to the familial love nest.
It isn’t just Renault. Most of the mainstream manufacturers are at it when it comes to advertising. Lively young things nipping around town with their jolly japes, empty nesters hitting the open road; no lifestyle cliché is left unsullied, yet the potential buyers learn little or nothing about the product itself.
I realise I have form for this viewpoint.
A very old dictionary in my possession defines an automobile as viz., ‘a motor car or other self-propelled road transport vehicle’. It is the horseless carriage. It moves people and things around in a convenient manner. You can try to persuade me otherwise until the very end of time and you will not change my opinion that whatever else it can do, a car cannot give you a better, happier life.
Car manufacturers like to say that customers ask for all this latest technology. Do they? Do they really? Is it not the case that to steal a march on other brands, a manufacturer will add this trinket or that gizmo to the dashboard just because they can to shift more motors and then tell us we can’t do without it? Is this not the cause of the current trend for distracted driving? Yes it is.
I have an ex-wife and I can tell you that if I had rocked up during divorce proceedings in a brand new Bentley Continental GT with two tickets for La Scala, a BOGOF deal at Armani and a suite in the finest Milan hotel I would still not have been within a country mile of a temporary truce tryst.
Car Advertising like this insults our intelligence.
Some people care about emissions, or fuel consumption or insurance costs or performance. Obviously, a TV ad can only ever give an overview but it can nevertheless point the way to more information whilst demonstrating the vehicle’s finer points.
What a car will not do is make the owner more attractive to women or men and the sun will still not shine all the time. Rain will still fall, the world will still turn and bills will still come through your inbox. Most mainstream cars are very similar and share many components. Many are exactly the same under the skin despite the differing badges. When you choose it is frankly just Coke versus Pepsi; a personal choice. Sell us the car, manufacturers, not the impossible dream.
So by all means enjoy your new car. It can certainly connect you to the world but it can’t perform miracles for your love life as much as car advertising likes to suggest. Of course, the way we buy cars has changed enormously over the years and continues to do so. I can foresee a day when the car dealership as we know it will be no more, so it’s to be expected that advertising will change too, alas. Geoff Maxted
P.S. Just when I thought that car advertising could not get any worse along comes Vauxhall with their ad for the new Crossland, extolling the benefits of the car for your average ‘pajama momma’. They’re probably trying to be humorous but taking your kids to school in your jammies has been derided by many as slovenly. It certainly wouldn’t induce me to buy this car. A low point in car advertising.