I hate car ads. I really, really, really hate car ads. I hate them
in a number of different venues: radio, newspapers, television, and
First, a message to all the automakers in the world:
I DON'T WANT TO BUY A CAR.
When I decide I need to buy a car, I know where to find you. Trust me.
You know the thing I find most annoying about radio ads? The
'auctioneer' voice that comes on and reads a nine-page legal
disclaimer so quickly that there's no hope of understanding
what's being said. The commercial spends thirty seconds
breathlessly trying to sell cars, and then the Auctioneer
tells you that the special deal you just heard about really
applies only to one car that's sitting up on blocks behind
the dealership, serving as a temporary home for a schizophrenic
drifter and his flock of imaginary geese.
When half my newspaper every day is composed of car ads, there's
something wrong. Entire sections, mind you - whole lumps of wasted
newsprint soaked in multicolored ink, screaming at me to buy a car.
I recycle my newspapers, but it pains me to think of all the time,
resources, and energy it takes to produce pounds and pounds of
These are the worst, I think, because they're such a grotesque
barrage of images and sounds. These ads are someday going to
completely consume broadcast television, I'm sure. They
embody all the worst elements of mob psychology, obscene consumerism,
and mass hypnosis in a hellish brew of blasting music, endless
repetition and outright lies.
Tips for Those Trying To Sell Cars On TV:
- You little guys out there - you know who you are - please don't
make your own commercials. Trust me on this. Standing in your car
lot in front of all the little waving flags and balloons doesn't
make you seem friendly and trustworthy. On the contrary - it shows
you up as a car hustler so cheap you won't even spend money on a
decent ad. All of us know you're a hustler, so do us a favor and
skip the homey little routine trying to make us like you. We don't and we
- Using popular songs to promote cars makes us mad at the musicians
who prostitute themselves into being jingle writers for the auto
industry - it doesn't make us want to buy a car.
- Doing something stupid in a car and then blowing smoke about
"professional driver - closed course - don't do this at home" is not
cute or interesting, it's just stupid. The thought that goes through
our minds is not "Gee! I want to buy a car and be stupid, too!" - it's
more like, "Geez, what an idiot!"
- You may as well stop with the legal disclaimers - after generations
of being screwed over, lied to, and stuck with crappy vehicles that
depreciate instantly and fall apart in the driveway, everyone on Earth
knows that the car dealership's mission in life is to lure people into
the showroom and then shag 'em like a tied yard dog in the back room.
We all understand this, and you scroll sixteen pages of three-point
text across the screen in half a second anyway, so what's the point?
When I'm sitting down reading National Geographic, I'm not thinking
about buying a car. I'm learning about interesting things around the
world, expanding my horizons, and enjoying the excellent photography.
Sticking car ads in the magazine doesn't fool me for a minute, even
when they're all dressed up as "rugged explorer" types and posing
beside their freshly-waxed assault vehicle in the Serengeti. I can
tell the difference, believe it or not, between an article on the
apes of Gibraltar and a car ad.