Thursday, 23 June 2011

Watching car credibility go down the pan.

Having seen the television campaign for the new MG6, I'd like to talk about car ads. How they're meant to inspire us to go and exchange lots of shiny coins and well-thumbed notes for a lump of metal with a wheel at each corner. Those printed and televisual feasts that plant the concept into the subconscious. There have been good ones, and there have been bad. And I reckon MG's latest offering falls into the latter camp.

One of the best I've seen is the billboard advert for the MG Maestro Turbo, which listed the supercars that couldn't keep up. This bullish attitude to sales is part of what makes the Maestro Turbo such a cult car - that, the low numbers built and the frankly blistering acceleration. In fact, Austin Rover in the late 80s were quite good at ads - remember the Sterling owner who had to take his baby son out in the car every night because the excellent ride was the only way of inducing the kid to nod off? The 'Up Where We Belong' R8 ad? The German Vitesse owner who demonstrated why he had bought British in preference to numerous Mercs, BMs, Audis etc was a low point though - few would have seen that translation about the quality ("I just like the way it's put together") without erupting into cacophonic hysteria.

But for the most point the ads were good. The low point of advertising for me was revisited earlier when watching something I taped ten years ago: THAT Kia Rio advert. It started with a Liverpudlian woman whinging about congestion on the school run, before showing us the car. A boast that the Rio could take thirty kids in one go was impressive... until she revealed that the reason was that Kia gave every Rio buyer the kid to set up a walking school bus for their area. The strapline for this ad? "Think before you drive."

So what were Kia trying to say? "Buy a Rio, and you'll want to walk everywhere", "Think before you the Kia dealership", and "We have to say something that sounds good but that means we can't mention the car" all spring to mind. What the ad actually told us was that nobody would buy a Rio purely because they lusted after one, and this is why in the last decade I have seen a solitary example on my local High Street.

Back to the MG6. Despite saying that they were going to sever heritage connections and sell cars on their merits, the cars are called the MG6GT and MG6 Magnette. The ad, and indeed the brand video, feature MG sportscars. It's overdubbed with a more exciting engine note, and not only are the plates reversible for foreign shoots, they are poor copies of UK plates in the wrong font. No expense spent, clearly.

Pity, because it's quite a nice car. Of all the cars under 5 years old I've driven, it's the one I fancy the most. But because people base their opinions on what the press say (mediocre) and the adverts (Low rent) I cannot see many people being tempted to part with £15495 for the boggo model, let alone nineteen grand for the one worth having. If they must play the heritage card, then they could do worse than to look at Vauxhall's latest. Bits of ads from the last 50 years, accompanied by the boast that they've just been getting better and better.

Take note, Longbridge.