Thursday, August 14, 2014

Good vs. bad.

I guess the reason Volvo's new advertising annoys me so much is not just that it's insipid, bland and meaningless but that Volvo's advertising used to be so great.

The brand, as defined by the decades-long efforts of Carl Ally and Scali McCabe Sloves stood for something. Volvo had an edge and a point of difference.

Sure, Volvos would win no "style" awards, but if you were looking for something durable, smart and incredibly safe, Volvo was your car. Everything about the ad above was different from other auto ads. Rather than showing a pristine car in a country club-setting, Volvo showed a muddy machine being driven hard.

They were different.

Today, those days are done.

Maybe the commercial you can find here is Volvo's worst-case scenario, a sale ad that for whatever reason attempts to be "likeable" and "genial." And nothing more. No attitude. No edge. No difference. Just pretty women, pretty kids and pretty pictures.

You can put any logo on the end of the spot.

It's anyone's ad.

The prevailing wisdom in the ad business is that if you have a car account, you have to hire people who have done car ads. Just as if you have a pharma account, you hire pharma people.

I'm sure some great car guys worked on the Volvo commercial heralding their Summer of Wonder sale event. I'm sure they're disappointed and maybe defensive too.

But you can't blame the milquetoastness of that commercial on any individual.

I think you have to blame it on the prevailing thinking in our industry.

That you can bland people into buying something.

Let's say nothing and smile our way to sales.

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