I’ve always been fascinated with how some ads try to present their products as part of a bigger lifestyle choice. Sure I’ve spent a good part of my adult life helping craft those very messages on behalf of clients. But even when I’m nesting in my den, playing the part of the American everyman watching Sunday football, with my marketing work a distant note on my Monday to-do list, I still find myself mulling over commercials in my mind while anticipating the next kick-off.
I write this because recently I’ve noticed a couple car ads lately that position themselves as alternatives to the perennial time suck that the internet and its partner in crime, social media can occasionally be. The Dodge Journey touts itself as a search engine for the real world. While just about any car could stake a claim to such a title, I find it interesting that Dodge decided to devote their campaign to making the case for their car.
Similarly, the Toyota Venza juxtaposes the leisure pursuits of “lame” social media newb parents who use their roomy crossover to ferry themselves through a day of activities like mountain biking and antiquing, against the activities of their soc med savvy adult kids who clearly spend too much of their waking hours transfixed on screens, regularly posting commoditized Facebook banality.
As a former advertising planner, I can tell you that ads like these don’t just get made based on the passing whims of a creative director or a slick huckster sell to a client. Typically they come from the chatter agencies and their marketing clients hear when speaking to people about the choices they make around how they spend their time and and the role of their car in those choices. Advertising themes are often born out of the insights gleaned from this sort of research. And here we have two separate cases offering the same POV — people feel forced to choose between actively going out and about and “living” life (while driving to some aspirational destination) vs being catatonically chained to the inter-webs.
Hmm…. does that mean we are seeing a significant part of society reject the idea of spending so much time cycber-shopping, Facebooking and tweeting? Are people beginning to rebel against how far social media has encroached into our leisure time and are beginning to push back? Is this a real issue issue? Or just a convenient conversation opener around cookie cutter vehicles that offer no other unique way to present themselves to the American public?