Here I go writing about automotive advertising again. Ad Age is reporting that 2013 will be a great year for the car business, thanks to a perfect storm of market conditions -good resale values, good access to credit and very low rates. And the carmakers want you to know this is a good time to buy a car.
Representatives from GM, Hyundai, VW and others were interviewed at the big New York Auto Show as it kicked off at the Jacob Javits Center. They spoke of increased ad spending. Yeah baby, great news. One interviewee that stood out in the Ad Age piece was Kevin Mayer, VP-marketing for Volkswagen of America. He says he’s looking toward a bigger ad budget to take advantage of the “pent-up demand” as newly confident consumers finally sell or trade in their old vehicles in favor of new ones.
The Ad Age story mentions that Mr. Mayer raved about the work of his ad agency, Deutsch L.A. Really, Mr. Mayer? Are you referring to the Jetta spot in which the dorkiest people on the planet go nuts over how “safe” the new Jetta is? Or maybe the spot where the new Passat owner, borrowing a Sarah Palin catch-phrase, tells an envious neighbor not to believe the “lamestream media.” Okay, I know you're not actually trying to insult our intelligence, and this stuff is probably intended to be tongue-in-cheek, but really, VW? Is there some new research indicating that right wing nut-jobs should be VW’s new target demo? I’m thinking not. I'm thinking this is the kind of garbage that sells Toyotas and Hondas to people who know nothing about cars. I'm also thinking - well, it's official: Volkswagen’s advertising, which once and consistently set the standard for creativity and uniqueness in the auto category, now officially sucks.
My conclusion - and it's a sad one - is that in their quest to increase U.S. market share, they've not only made the cars more like their plain vanilla competitors, they're creating advertising that's just as bad.
I swear I can feel the vibrations from Bill Bernbach whirling in his grave.