I’ve always believed that marketing and advertising works best when it delivers some kind of emotional connection between whatever is being ‘sold’ and whoever is supposed to be doing the buying. Like Don Draper gets it in this fantastic scene from the first series of Mad Men.
I can’t think of too many car adverts that I like, except perhaps this absolute classic from Audi…
IMHO this is blindingly good, subverting our expectations until the final frames. The emotional connection resonates all the more strongly… BMW drivers are w**kers. You’re not a w**ker. So drive an Audi. Lovely. It has humour, style and personality. Taken alongside the years of tremendous ideas that brought vorsprung durch technik to life, it connected with the soul of its audience (I’m NOT a BMW w**ker) as well as the engineering-led design beauty…
Perhaps it was the years of this sort of perception (the Audi ad was true in the 1990s and probably still is…) that persuaded BMW to create the execrable “Joy is BMW” advert, which I first saw a few months ago. I hated it the moment I saw it.
I dislike this most of all because I can so clearly see the brief writ large all over the screen. There’s every demographic in the book (many of whom could barely afford to hire a BMW, let alone own one), there’s every location in the book, there’s sunshine a-plenty, there’s old retro-models (must display our heritage), there’s a designer and wind-tunnel (technology), there’s Patrick Stewart (full of gravitas yet human and approachable), and there’s the godawful script. It’s an internal corporate video that should be playing in reception at BMW HQ, that is shown to new employees to fire them up. It’s not a bloody advert because it says NOTHING about who it wants to buy the cars. It doesn’t seem to care who buys the cars, as long as someone does. It’s all about how bloody marvellous BMW is.
I’ve always thought The Ultimate Driving Machine was a perfectly excellent idea for BMW, that appealed to the ego and self-importance of the BMW driver as well as showcased the terrific technical achievements of their engines. A car for drivers by drivers.
And then this week, I saw something potentially even worse. Renault’s Drive for Change campaign…
Rather than simply crowing about how great their cars are, Renault associates itself (through the car itself) with the progress of human history, and then starts preaching about how it’s not fair that some people don’t have cars. Which made me think, well you could always donate some of your massive profits or the cost of your Formula 1 team to improve the state of the planet and humanity. Don’t get me started about the big “YES” and “NO” signs. And as for the wavy-haired guy at 1’10”, shouldn’t he be driving a BMW?
These films feel like corporate arrogance to me, barely even acknowledging there are any people who matter. The Renault script is full of cliches, it’s trying way too hard. Hint: show me how you’re making a difference, don’t just make vapid assertions and expect me to believe them.
I’ll take Don Draper over this expensive, meaningless rubbish every day of the week and twice on Sunday.