March 20, 2017
The best thing about this mildly amusing parody of those “Real People/Chevy” commercials, which have been running endlessly on TV, is that it proves I’m not the only one who loathes the source material. And I do. Unreservedly.
I’m not sure why I (and others) dislike these advertisements so much. On the surface they are but showroom testimonials. Hardly creative but hardly nefarious either.
I suppose it’s the little things.
Like the seemingly random and unaware “real people,” who act surprised and delighted by the appearance of… cars? Gosh, we’ve never seen those before! Yet the curtains lift. Walls part. And lo and behold cars appear. By oohing and aahing, the allegedly unwitting folks come off as witless. Even if a $19,000 dollar Chevy Impala were capable of eliciting such responses, playing the reactions as spontaneous rankles what’s left of my jaded advertising brain.
And how about the ringmaster? Another supposed regular guy, only smugger. Note to Chevy: Being in on a joke that is positively un-funny only makes one complicit to the insult to our intelligence.
Digging deeper (if that’s possible in such shallow material), maybe it’s the adoration for Chevrolet’s commonplace vehicles that vexes me most. Nothing against affordable sedans and efficient trucks. They are the meat and potatoes of America’s roads, and we appreciate them as such. But falling to one’s knees and hugging the bumper, as one character does, is too disingenuous for words. Yes, this would play on, say, The Price is Right after winning one of these vehicles, but merely being shown these cars? And after the pomp and circumstance of so many vainglorious reveals… It’s crummy stagecraft.
I’m guessing from the many executions and frequency of airing that on some level this campaign is selling cars. In which case Chevrolet and its agency, Commonwealth shall have the last laugh.
I’m also aware that on these very pages I’ve written about my reluctance to criticize advertising in purely negative terms, which makes me a hypocrite. Perhaps my excuse for such shameless behavior is the same as Chevrolet’s: I couldn’t help myself.
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No one would ever call me a liberal but nothing makes me veer to the left like those pretentious “December to Remember” commercial from Lexus. Take a look at this latest campaign from the luxury carmaker. It’s surreal in its opulence. Who are these beautiful, severe models that live in a pink castle and have three white 2014 Lexuses (Lexi?) in their moat-like cobblestone driveway? I don’t know anyone who lives like that. And other than a handful of hip hop stars and 21 year-old professional athletes I don’t know anybody who’d even want to. Not really.
If you have this kind of money you don’t advertise it. The super rich have ginormous castles and a shit-ton of cars but other than occasional stories in Vanity Fair we don’t see or hear from them. Putting wealth like this on display is vulgar –to the plain rich, the shrinking middle class and especially the poor. Oh, I get it. This is supposed to be an over-the-top representation of luxury. An aspirational fantasy. Clearly, Lexus is getting mileage from these campaigns or else they wouldn’t produce such fattening holiday bonbons, year after year. But I have to wonder: Are there that many nouveau riche?
Even if. I don’t care. It’s grotesque. I want to punch these people and key their shiny, appropriately white cars. Don’t you?
I’m made sad thinking about the advertiser and its agency and what those meetings must look like. Lexus is the luxury arm of Toyota, a famous Japanese company known for making high-quality, reliable automobiles. Love of expensive whiskey and illegal ivory aside, since when do the Japanese encourage showing off? Do these clients condone and encourage pomposity from their flagship brand? “Make more premium!” I hear the Japanese CEO yell. “Americans love showing off. Show them showing off!”
Do the well off among us even relate to this myth? Do they and/or we aspire to it? If I’m sitting at home watching The Good Wife with my good wife am I going to respond favorably to these commercials? I don’t think so. I am going to go on a rant about vulgarity and wealth and not being caught dead in a Lexus dealership.