Thursday, December 22, 2011

Dog Pile on the Snobs!

Earlier this month I wrote about how out of touch Lexus – or perhaps their ad agency – is with the public. ("Lexus Gets Some Bad Advertising Advice.") They are so enamored with their own jingle, they can't imagine a world in which we won't recognize it, even from just a few notes. ("Lexus, I know the Law & Order 'Bom, Bom,' and you are no 'Bom, Bom.'")

As a result, the ads featuring a rich person playing the forgettable jingle for another rich person to let him or her know that they are about to receive a luxury car, falls flat for me. I heard from more than a few people who agreed – saying the spots actually confused them. Envy, lust, yearning – these are emotions advertisers usually shoot for. Confusion? Not so much.

I'm now thrilled to write about other car manufacturers piling on another ridiculous aspect of the long-running Lexus campaign: the giant bows.

Honda's new spokesperson, Patrick Warburton, brilliantly mocks the luxury car makers with his trademark sardonic arch of an eyebrow. (Of course, Honda also owns Acura – which at one time flirted with the giant car bows, but even they are now trying to tone things down with their "Season of Reason" spots.)

Warburton, who you may know as "David Puddy," "Joe Swanson," or "Kronk," opens the spot by asking, "Are you a millionaire?" Then he walks up on a new Honda festooned with a ridiculous giant bow. "No?" he adds, "Well then you probably don't give people cars as presents," and he drags the bow off the car, letting it fall to the ground disdainfully. Genius.

Brilliant too that at the end of the spot this millionaire actor tells us that he's giving this particular car to his niece – and he starts putting the bow back on the car. I haven't felt so good about being a Have Not in decades.

And now Buick has gotten in on the bow bashing. And let me tell you, as someone with a Buick in his past, if Buick is making fun of you – you're having a bad day.

In this spot, a man presents his girlfriend/wife with a luxury car, complete with The Bow. She turns to thank him, but unfortunately for him, at that moment a Buick drives by, catching her eye. She's hypnotized by the beauty and grace of the Buick – bow draped luxury car be damned.

I feel bad for the guy. It's like taking a date to Ruth's Chris Steak House and then on the way home you pass a Red Lobster and she says, "ooh, I just loooove Red Lobster!" Talk about flushing your money down the toilet.

Anyway, the point is, Lexus and their one percenter clientele are living in a different world. As the world economy crumbles around us, will they stick with their message of joyous inequality? Probably. After all, if we can't rub our success in other people's faces, how can we tell how much better than them we are?

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Lexus Gets Some Bad Advertising Advice

An inflated sense of self-importance is one of the most unattractive qualities an individual can have. But when a pompous windbag indignantly asks, "do you know who I am?!" it's easy enough to perform a combination shoulder shrug-eye roll while lethargically exhaling a simple "nope." (Can you tell I used to work in the hospitality industry?) So when an entire company asks the equivalent question, it's time for a reality check.

I haven't seen a company as in love with itself as Lexus since…well, ever.

Lexus is airing two television spots this holiday season that feature people giving each other Lexii for Christmas. I have personally never received, nor given, a vehicle for the holidays, but I guess there are people out there who do this sort of thing. Of course what with a recession, high unemployment, and flagging consumer confidence, some of the 99 percenters may find the premise in bad taste, but hey, Lexus is a luxury car company and they should just dance with the ones that brung 'em.

The offending concept in the spots is the way the Lexus recipient learns they are getting the car. In each case, the car givers are using variations of what is apparently the Lexus "theme song" to break the news.

In the "One Percenter Family Spot" the crafty dad and kids have customized a song in the Guitar Hero video game, calling it "Mom's Gift." Mom begins to jam on the guitar, and she suddenly recognizes the song. Wait - somebody pinch me, I'm getting the car of my dreams! (Note to self, work on sarcasm font.)

In the "One Percenter Hipster Twins Spot", a young couple with matching asexual haircuts use ring tones on their trendy smart phones to play the alleged "Lexus theme" song. The man (the facial hair is the tip off) is tickled pink that his wife/girlfriend/twin sister/brother has purchased him the car of HIS dreams!

Here's the problem: the Lexus theme song? It's not much of a theme song. Forget that the Guitar Hero and ringtone versions are, as would be reasonably expected, poor renditions of the song – tinny and badly mixed. The song itself is as uninspired and forgettable as a jingle can be. I saw both spots multiple times before I could figure out just what it was that made the mom's and the hipster's eyes light up. It's a badly conceived, poorly executed concept.

"Oh, Mike you're just a crank, bitter that nobody's ever bought you a Lexus. Or a Datsun even."

Perhaps, but go ahead, smartypants, hum the Lexus theme song. Can you at least describe it. Of course you can't. I can't, and I've been sitting here watching these dopey ads over and over again as I write this.

Poor Lexus. They've invested hundreds of millions of dollars in a non-descript jingle and then listened to the sycophantic ad agency that told them, "oh, everyone knows the Lexus song. Anyone who's anyone LOVES that song!"

Guess again.

A classic example of an inflated sense of self-importance resulting in wasted ad dollars and media impressions.

So Lexus, in answer to the somewhat indignantly-asked question, "do you know what our theme song is?" I'm happy to shrug my shoulders, roll my eyes, and say, "nope."