Thursday, 6 August 2009

Following trends, making trends

On the way in this morning I saw a poster (ironically on the back of a bus, a form of cheap, efficient public transport) with the VW logo and the phrase 'SwiftShiftSave'. Assuming that it wasn't a reference to the goalkeeping skills of the famous satirist and writer of Gulliver's Travels, I took it in reference to some sort of efficiency message.

"Nice!" I thought, "a car that is only somewhat massively wasteful! Now, when I decide to use a huge metal moving explosion to transport just myself and nobody else, I can do so with a modicum of dignity!".

The problem is that VW are already doing it slightly better with their "BlueMotion saves you money" stuff, which more directly links technology, the environment, and being clever with money. So why they did this weak execution (so weak I can't seem to find it on Billetts) I don't know.

What's worse is that it has to contend with tons of efficiency noise right now, some that is far better:
-Ford ECOnteic (not that great but pretty executions)
-Fiat Eco:Drive (amazing, an award winner and rightly so)
-and let's not forget the old-as-your-grandmother "Hate something, change something" which actually, god forbid, linked the product back to some core brand philosophies so that it was at least somewhat believable. And was really very good.

Me-too advertising sucks. I believe this is an absolute rule, unless it's done its done in a markedly better way, or with some element of self-knowledge (though it must be done carefully. Personally, the Tango-Sony tribute had me in stitches because it picked up on what was right about the ad, made fun of what was wrong, and ultimately found its tenuous way back to the product).

Car advertisers! If you do have some way to contribute to the debate, for god's sake actually do so with either new content, or a new spin. What we have now is like being dogged by a litter of swarming sycophants promising the same things because it's what we've ostensibly asked for. This is the problem. You're trying to give us what we want - fair enough. We want to be seen asking for efficiency above all else.

But do we know what we want? Henry Ford has been quoted as saying
"if I'd listened to what people wanted, I would've given them a faster horse"
And were many people actually asking Honda for a better Diesel back then? Not particularly. So beat the trend, and inform us of new stuff while it's still new. Honda beat you - and what are they doing now?

Whoops! They've moved on again.

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