Category Archives: car advertising

Justify this.

Neal-McDonough-Cadillac-AdWith all the hysteria pro and con about the Cadillac spot with Neal McDonough strutting through a McMansion laying down his I’m-American-and-I’m-not-sorry rap, why has nobody mentioned the Justified connection? You see, McDonough’s character—slick, nattily dressed, unrepentantly alpha—didn’t come out of nowhere. He played the exact same character for two seasons on Justified, the Appalachian Gothic procedural on FX. Except for one thing: Robert Quarles, his character on the show, is a sadistic, closeted gay psychopath who, when he’s not slinging heroin and meth, is torturing and killing his boy toys.RED-2-Neal-McDonough No matter. He’s well-dressed, articulate, confident and totally bought-in to the American dream. One of the Cadillac creatives was watching this monster rampage through Harlan County, Kentucky and thought to himself:  Yes. That’s our man.

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The new Lincoln WTF.

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I really really don’t understand the new Lincoln campaign.Take this print ad.

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Why redheads?

Why make the point that they’re all different and then show only one car?

Which doesn’t look…that different?

Why isn’t the car red?

What do statistics have to do with anything?

Here’s another ad in the series, with a bunch of chefs:

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Do you know who they are?

If you do, this car isn’t for you. In fact, no car is for you.

Because you don’t own a car. You take the Q train to Carroll Gardens to eat at Frankie’s 457 Spuntino (those are the Frankies in question, 2nd row, 2nd from right).

If Lincoln wanted to do this foodie version of Hollywood Squares right for the actual target market, they’d have Paula Deen, not April Bloomfield, and Chef Boyardee instead of Andrew Carmellini. Because here’s what happens when you try to get all hipster with your car advertising:

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But wait, you’re thinking. Surely the Lincoln website provides the, er, deeper engagement with redheads and trendy chefs that we’re seeking.

Not so much. In fact, not at all. But the website does take a dialuptastic two and a half minutes to load, which is more than enough time to click over to bmwusa.com.

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a tale of two spokespeople

The use of celebrity spokespeople in ad campaigns in lieu of a real idea seems to be on the wane, which is a good thing. Chalk it up to the growing sophistication of the audience, which would rather know what their friends and peers think of a product than a bought and paid for shill.

Still, you see them, and if you watch Mad Men, you see them a lot. Especially John Slattery (Roger Sterling) for Lincoln. On paper (or PowerPoint) this looks like a good choice: guy who used to be dusty, now of the moment; solid Establishment type with a rebellious streak; a guy who you could plausibly see behind the wheel of this car (unlike, say, the crazy-ass choice of Tiger Woods for Buick a few years back).

But what a waste. Basically, they use Slattery as the world’s most expensive extra and hand-model. He has almost no lines. We see him in the distance, in shadow, from behind–like he was in a Witness Protection program, not starring in a TV commercial. Here’s a few examples:

Who is that guy? What is he hiding?

That very tiny man on the left would be Roger.

Underexposure is not Sam Waterston‘s problem in the TD Ameritrade campaign. He is the campaign–him and a big honking logo. No, his problem is that the company’s owner, Joe Ricketts, was revealed to be a batshit-crazy, hate-mongering wingnut. Eager to join such great Americans as the Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelson, Ricketts was ready to open up his checkbook to run a rancid screed linking President Obama to Rev. Wright–a spot so noxious and inflammatory that even Mitt Romney felt compelled to condemn it (after the storyboard was leaked to the New York Times).

In a delicious reversal from the usual order of things, client bad behavior was dinging the spokesperson’s brand rather than the other way around. A brief read of Waterston’s bio suggests that he himself is sane, educated and moderately progressive in his views. And his other advertising activities include work for the Nation. Waterston, obviously recruited to TD Ameritrade as the rock-ribbed symbol of virtue and probity, must have had his lawyers looking closely to see if there was an escape clause in his contract last week. Even in these morally ambivalent times, this cannot be what he signed up for .

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Bring back the dead guy in the fedora.

Let’s say you were Lexus and you were introducing a vehicle in a new segment, somewhere between the ES and GS. Wouldn’t this be an appropriate headline? Builds on their endline of the last 20 years or so, highlights a new entry, has the self-confidence bordering on swagger that Lexus has earned.

Too bad it’s an ad for…Buick. What? You didn’t notice that?