AUDI QUATTRO IN NORWAY
Referring to four-wheel-drive technology that keeps the car glued to the road, the headline translates as “Sticks like Quattro.” Other executions show a woman with burrs in her hair and a guy with an adhesive bandage stuck to his skin. Is Audi foolish to focus a whole campaign on a single trait? No, since this sticks-to-the-road quality implies a bunch of worthy characteristics. It means the steering feels good, the suspension is right, the whole balance of the car is comfortable, etc. This road-stickiness also has the virtue of coming across as a safety feature and a sexy feature. That is, it suggests you could swoop around corners at high speed, as if racing on the Grand Prix circuit. But it also offers practical reassurance that you won’t slide into a ditch while driving to the grocery store.
Bates, Oslo, Norway
Audi in Norway
As if the tender mercies of Susan Faludi weren’t enough, American men now find themselves being patronized by fictitious zoologist Joann Walker as she tracks “the nomadic male” in a series of Honda ads. In the one seen here, four of these primates belie the conventional
wisdom about them–i.e., that they’re “dim-witted, uncaring brutes.” In fact, writes Walker, they’re capable of a wide range of emotions. The three pals of the “alpha male” are jealous that he won’t give them turns driving the CR-V. They display “compassion” in sharing a cold, frosty one, and a mixture of “gloating, distrust and rage” while playing cards. The faux field notes do a nice job of integrating the vehicle’s features into the narrative, telling of the removable picnic table, power outlets, “built-in wet-storage area” and the like. Will the lads in Honda’s audience mind having such fun poked at them? Probably not, since the joke is also on the pseuds who overanalyze the folkways of the ’90s male.
Rubin Postaer and Associates, Santa Monica, Calif.
American Honda Motor, Torrance, Calif.
Associate Creative Directors
Wendi Knox, Mark Erwin
Will van Overbeek
Nobody would believe Hyundai is the best car money can buy. But they might be persuaded it has “America’s best warranty.” Unless you make a hobby of studying automotive warranties, how would you know otherwise? Anyway, since the claim is quantifiable, we’re inclined to believe Hyundai wouldn’t dare make it if it weren’t true. We then infer that the cars must be sufficiently sturdy to remain intact at least until the lengthy warranty expires. If Hyundai explicitly said its cars are durable, we might or might not believe it. By establishing a credible premise from which we can draw that conclusion ourselves, the ad makes its point without setting off our sales resistance. Of course, if a car seems like a bore, the fact it’ll last forever is a mixed blessing. While the palm-reading ploy is pleasant, it’s scarcely exciting. (A palm line that reads “10-year/100,000 mile protection” joins the usual “fate line,” “line of intuition,” etc.) While delivering a useful message, the ad also tends to reinforce Hyundai’s utilitarian image.
Bates USA West, Irvine, Calif.
Hyundai Motor America, Fountain Valley, Calif.
VOLKSWAGEN CABRIO CONVERTIBLE
VW spots are highly adept at defining the relationship between the brand and its customers. This one does the trick without resorting to words. As a Nick Drake song called “Pink Moon” plays, four friends in a Cabrio convertible drive along a moonlit road, gazing at the night sky. At last, they pull up in front of a house where a party is in full swing. The four glance at each other. Then we see from the taillight that the driver has put the car into reverse, and the spot ends with the foursome back on the road. Evidently the drive is more fun than a party could be, at least for those who can savor each other’s company under a beautiful sky. There’s nothing unusual in a car spot that makes the driver (and his pals) look attractive. But where other automakers invite you to define yourself by latching onto their cars, VW’s minimalist vignettes suggest that Volkswagen drivers define the marque. You’re not borrowing personality from a car that’s hipper than you; by driving VWs, you and a like-minded cohort are giving the brand its distinctive character. That’s a shrewd positioning.
Volkswagen of America, Auburn Hills, Mich.
Chief Creative Officer
Lance Jensen, Alan Pafenbach
Bob Industries, Venice, Calif
Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris