Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Bad Adverts: Volvo's Sexy Cars

Saw this at the train station on the way to work this morning.

There's nothing good about it, obviously, but the greater part of the blame must lie with Volvo's copywriters.

"There's more to life than sexy cars. Wait a second, no there isn't" sounds like the sort of inane babble a cluster of sub-par 80s marketing men would exchange around a large plastic table long after the inspiration (and coke) had run out: that they thought was so great - such a eureka moment - that they simply had to let the public in on it.

It reads like placeholder text - vaguely summing up the message they want to send, but obviously not in its finished form yet; sorry, it's been a really hectic afternoon, &c., &c. It's the Red Toupée of Volvo ads.

(By which, non-Al Stewart fans, I mean it's a text composed of temporary doggerel allowed to slip through the net due to the writer's fondness for what they perceive to be its quirky charm. So sort of like what I said before, except that Al Stewart is an entertainer, not a salesman.)

On closer examination, the thing is inane, obtuse, stupid and depressing as well as lazy.

"There's more to life than sexy cars."

For a start off, this is a lazy, hackneyed phrase.

Secondly, who even said this? Nobody. For adverts to set up a counter-argument that doesn't exist without attributing it even to some imaginary voice is perverse. And don't even get me started on "sexy cars" - the phrase has no right to exist outside of pointed satires of maleness in the modern age, or, as I gather one particularly popular example of such a barbed and biting work is known, Top Gear.

Wrong! Volvo are apparently using it here without irony to describe the spotlit hunk of crap on the poster: the antithesis of "sexy", if, admittedly, probably, a car. It looks like it's about to burst into song: some sort of faux-opera; you know, like they have in the cartoons.

Even the sort of damaged individuals for whom the compound noun "sexy cars" does not induce confusion and/or nausea are highly unlikely to identify a Volvo as a likely culprit. Presumably this is an hugely unsuccessful attempt at a rebrand? Unless I've had Volvo pegged wrong all these years, which is entirely possible if this advert is indicative of the quality of their brand positioning.

"Wait a second, no there isn't."

Shit. My life is completely empty. Cars - which are meant to represent freedom and modernity and adventure and my cock, and all the rest of it - are simply another "sexy" accessory to my otherwise completely vapid and meaningless existence. Like a 12-bladed razor, or an X-rated tamagotchi.

"Wait a second, no there isn't" is the biggest kick in the nuts to the would-be Volvo buyer imaginable. This is it: this is the best you can do. A Volvo.

Not sexually attracted to this car? Well, good luck endlessly wandering the arid tundra of the rest of your life looking for a sense of belonging that is merely an illusory figment of your warped and deluded brain.

I'd love to hear from someone for whom this advert has worked (well, obviously I'd hate it - and they're probably too busy touching themselves up in the back seats of Volvos to comment - but hear me out), because to me it seems to be a half-baked, ill-judged, creative black hole misfiring blanks into the bemused faces of middle-aged commuters everywhere.

(But specifically in Poole in the case of the above billboard.)

Yours, doubtfully,

Alexander Velky


Bottom right corner: "Volvo. for life". Lazy to the point of arrogant, and blindingly obvious when naturally and immediately compared with its opposite (Volvo. for death), and nobody's going to dole out awards for linguistic innovation just because you felt you had the right not to capitalise that 'F'.


What sexy cars might sound like:

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