Breakthrough branding or just plain offensive?


I recently saw two car commercials that I found particularly offensive. Injected with humor, each spot entertains and educates.  Yet, I walked away from each with a bad taste in my mouth.

The first one was for Volkswagen for their 2012 Tiguan model. In this commercial a mom performs her errands in her daughter’s boyfriend’s racy car and makes them drive her Volkswagen Tiguan. The key message is that the VW is safe enough for her daughter.  Great execution.

My only problem with the spot, and probably what helps bring this one to life, is that we hear the lyrics to “Ridin Dirty” by Chamillionaire.  The song is about racial profiling by the police. Aside from the tons of foul language, the song also has lines like “This a message to the law; tells ’em “We hate you.”  I firmly believe songs like this are influential and send the wrong message. So hearing it in a car commercial is very disturbing. I typically love VW spots but this one was different.

The second spot I saw was for the BMW 3 Series.  This car has a voice reading email system.  The spot shows a husband driving up to his house and listening to his email. He listens to an email from his wife telling him that her mom stopped by. When he hears the message, he starts backing up and gets another message that says “Hey honey, where the blank are you going?”  The spot is definitely funny, memorable and gets across this new gadget that the car offers.  Unfortunately, while it delivers on key messaging, to me it doesn’t align with the brand.  I remembered the spot, remembered being offended, but didn’t remember the brand.  I had to look it up later. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?  You decide.

While both of these spots are funny, each stood out in my mind in a negative way. So much so that I will probably not put these brands into my consideration set the next time I shop for a car.

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Categories: Branding, Business

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