Tossing and Tortured 'Till Dawn

I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Pet Peeve of the Day – Car advertising and Gremlin power!

Ever see a classic car from the 30’s or 40’s? My folks have a 1946 Studebaker convertible, and if you don’t recognize the “rocket ship” hood ornament, you wouldn’t really have any indication of what it is.

By the 60’s, the trunk had picked up a small, script version of the company’s name, or the model name, occasionally both. Once in a while you’d also get a description of a feature of the car, like “400” or “SS,” but that was about it. Mopar was pretty garish sometimes, I’ll admit, but you could also buy a Dodge Daytona in the color “plum crazy,” or a “Superbee” in yellow and black, complete with a little decal of a bee.

Once you got to the 80’s, practically every car had adopted the format where the trunk contains the brand symbol in the center, the model on one side, and the trim level following the model. This applies even to boring cars, “[Honda H] Civic HX” and the like.

In the post-modern era, the brand has trumped the product. Ever see a modern Ford truck? The bed’s door has been made a massive, flat panel, the better to display a pie-plate-sized Blue Oval. By the time you can see the truck, you know it’s a Ford. Giant decals on the side indicate “4 x 4” and “Off-Road!!!” You know, to emphasize their toughness.

Erm, so what?

The pet peeve isn’t the manufacturers forcing consumers to purchase rolling advertisements along with their products, although that’s a little annoying.
The pet peeve is when folks pay money just to make the advertisement bigger, and more garish, for a rather boring car.

Is this about you? Do you own a compact car? Have you added a large decal to the windshield that reads “Powered by Honda!?” Or, are you the guy in my apartment complex with a black Mitsubishi sedan? It would be unassuming, except that there are no fewer than 6 large Mitsu logos that you’ve decaled on there, along with little flames coming out of some of them and “MITSUBISHI” in large letters across the windshield.

Yes, I know race cars do this sort of thing. They are paid to, so that when they are on TV, you dork, they’re more noticeable. What you’ve got going on is the opposite of one of those “my other car is a Ferrari” bumper stickers. Hooray! You have an inexpensive compact car! Congratulations!

As a followup, have you ever seen a supercar in person, like a Ferrari or Lamborghini? They’ve got their own logos, fairly small, and sometimes a script version of the company name on that back. That’s it. Beyond that, the styling speaks for itself. You don’t have one of those.

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