Marketing Communication Can’t Help a Boring Product

Or, Why the Auto Industry is Stagnating

In the last few decades, car design has become uninspired, with all cars looking pretty much the same. But you wouldn’t know it from the marketing communication. Television, radio and print advertising are full of wildly optimistic claims about innovative, new styling that completely blows away the competition.

We all know the stereotyped commercials- a car zips around a contrived scene while a baritone announcer croons. More recently, auto companies have taken to introducing comedic spokespeople as well- the Ford guy, the cute, mop-headed kid touting the Toyota minivan. But underpinning the high production values is an all-too-apparent truth: these cars look boring. Take away the mountain hairpin curves, barren desert racetrack or sassy spokesperson and you’re left with a product that can’t be visually differentiated from its competitors and probably isn’t exciting anyone.

Marketers seem to be coping with this fact by simply lying- or deluding themselves, if you prefer. Check out these marketing descriptions and their accompanying promotional pictures. Try not to yawn.

Energetic, athletic stance with unique Z-shaped body lines

Sensible gets sensational with a bold, confident sense of style

Its sharp lines and powerful stance excite the senses from any angle

World-class design and superb level of craftsmanship

Car designers can do better. Cars used to be much more visually interesting. Look at these classic cars. Love them or hate them, they’ve got style and a definite design aesthetic.

So, c’mon, designers. Give us some unique and interesting cars that marketers can really work with. Until they offer a product that consumers are excited about buying, the auto industry will continue to stagnate.

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