Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Hell on Wheels

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It's small. It's cute. It gets great gas mileage.

And if you get in its way, it will destroy you.

That seems to be the message of a new series of car ads that are out, it seems, to prove that gas-sipping environmentally friendly compact cars are all dangerous and manly and stuff.

One ad, for the Toyota Yaris, shows a small spiderlike creature made up of gas-pump nozzles squealing in terror and attempting to run away before being crushed to pulp, then having it innards sucked up by the Yaris. Then, in an even more ominous development, the vehicle divides into two complete vehicles, reproducing like something from a Grade-Z horror flick.

Another Yaris ad is even more brutal. An unsuspecting little pink piggy bank stands blinking in confusion before the Yaris, which swiftly extrudes a laser on the end of a long metal tentacle. The laser morphs into a whirling buzzsaw blade, then a hammer, all of which combine to reduce piggy to fragments before the tentacle grows fingers and snatches a single coin from the poor porker's carcass.

The car then does its reproducing thing again. I guess the single coin is to show the car is inexpensive or something. That must be it, because I called the Toyota dealer and found out that the car does not, in fact, have deadly morphing metal tentacles that shoot out from under the hood.

I don't mind telling you, I was pretty disappointed. I was looking forward to going all Doctor Octopus on the next jerk that cut me off in traffic.

It's a sign, I guess, of just how far out of the mainstream I really am since I just don't get most car ads. I never did understand the cars that bragged about having a "driver-oriented cockpit." What exactly does that mean? All the instruments are oriented so the driver can see and reach them? Well, I would hope so. That's like saying the car has "road-oriented wheels."

A recent ad for the Ford F150 pickup puzzles me as to exactly how it's supposed to make the truck something you'd want. It shows a swarthy, male-model-looking guy in a pickup who encounters a tree fallen across the road. He goes off-road around the tree, then grabs his tow chain and pulls the tree out of the road so this dorky guy in a convertible with a hot-looking girl in the front seat can get past. The girl bats her eyes at Pickup Truck Man and murmurs "Gracias, Manuel." Pickup guy tips his cowboy hat and drives away. Dorky guy asks hot girl, "You know that guy?" and she answers, "He's my ex-boyfriend."

OK, let's review. Dorky guy drives off in convertible with hot girl. Pickup guy drives off alone. And this is a commercial, not for the convertible, but for the pickup. Are they trying to tell us that pulling trees out of the road is better than hanging out in convertibles with sultry babes? I would respectfully beg to differ.

One of the funniest things about that particular ad is the bit where pickup guy pulls up and notices the fallen tree. Across the bottom of the screen, you see the usual disclaimer: "Professional driver. Closed course. Do not attempt." Don't attempt what? Finding trees in the road? It's not something I do deliberately, believe me.

Actually, that's one of the silly things about most big truck and SUV commercials. They show the vehicles climbing near-vertical rocky hills, blasting through mud bogs, generally doing all sorts of cool stuff and then there's that darned killjoy disclaimer at the bottom reminding you that while the truck can do all of this, you can't. Nyahh.

Another one that leaves me scratching my head is the SUV commercial where the guy kisses his wife goodbye, steps out of his house in a suit with his briefcase, and parachutes off a sheer rock pinnacle to his SUV waiting below. Am I the only one who wonders how the guy gets back up there in the evening? Am I the only one who remembers the commercial but can't for the life of him remember which car it's for?

Some car ads are so awful, I've actually wondered if they might be made by the company's competitors to send you away from the car. Take, for example, the horrendous new ad for the Mustang that features the world's most annoying band singing a song about "you love to go BEEP BEEP!" I love my Mustang, but that commercial made me seriously consider trading it in.

I guess this is why I never made it in advertising.


Bill said...

What about the one where all the waiters gather around the SUV in the street? Weird and incompehensible.

Richard said...

On the plus side, you can get a good deal on Hummer these days.

Toni McGee Causey said...

(Cracking up) -- totally loved the Dr. Octopus line (and reasoning). And yeah, I am one of those people who wondered how in the hell that guy got back up to his house, and why was this supposed to impress me about the car. Have you seen the Yaris commercial at the theaters? An extended race between two Yaris (how in the hell does one make that plural?) where each car reveals laser guns, bombs, and so on, but stops dead for a family of plastic rubber duckies to pass by, then begins again. Fun commercial, but I'd be really bummed if it didn't have the retractable Howitzer.

JD Rhoades said...

(how in the hell does one make that plural?)


Chris Everheart said...

Hey! I have a blog up. NOW WHAT? HELP!!!!

JD Rhoades said...

God help you, son. God help you.

Stephen Blackmoore said...

And people wonder why I make my Tivo watch television for me.

All this bullshit subtlety is lost on the average viewer. They should just show a picture of a car and the words, "Hot Women Will Want To Blow You" and leave it at that.

Anonymous said...

The only people I've seen with a Hummer these days are Mexican-American drug dealers. They're always pimped out.

Anonymous said...

Is there a place to download that Yaris commercial of the extended race? I saw it in the theatre and thought it was so cute.