Wednesday, October 29, 2008

How to save fifty thousand lives a year with effective marketing

Imagine the add campaign for the Avee (read the post below if you havn't heard that word yet). Put together some video clips of people doing all the things they do while they drive: eating, talking on the phone and to passengers, texting, reading email, flipping through their library of CDs or ipod, yelling at their kids, falling asleep, making kids, and so on. Order the clips so that a sense of discomfort is built in the viewer, make 'em cringe at the thought of other people (and themselves) doing those things while they're on the road. Midway though, have a voiceover and text say:
"Whatever you do in your car,"
Then adjust the camera so that the viewer sees that the person is in the passenger seat, and the driver seat is empty. End with the voiceover and text:
"You could be doing it better."
The ad could be conservative and end with a parent reading a book to their kids, or risque and end with a couple of lovers reclining thier seats out of view.

Another approach might be a comi-tragic take on the standard forumla with two people racing eachother on regular streets. There's a Suzuki commercial I've seen recently to that effect, and it struck me how bizzare it was that they're advertizing totally irresponsible and life-threatening behavoir. Anyway. Start the bit out with one person driving all hard, with exciting fishtail turns, heel-toe shifiting, smoking tires and near misses. The other person's all leisurely, seeming to not even pay attention to the road, and going at a moderate pace. Again, tension should be built in the viewer towards the second person's innattention. The second car slows to a stop and makes way for a speeding ambulance, and the second person expresses concern. As it takes off again, it passes the first car which has crashed, and the ambulence who's crew is attempting to rescue the first driver.
This approach might be a bit jarring, and it could be risky to associate a product with unpleasant thoughts about fatal crashes. The purpose is so counter the "driving excitement" idea that car manufacturers have been selling for so long, the idea that there's something sexy about really powerful, fast cars, and that driving your car is an experience that you should really love. A voiceover could say "If you want to race..." (show the wreck) "go to a track."

If you wanted to be really, appallingly jarring, the video could end with the second car passing the ambulence, revealing that the racer has crashed into a schoolbus. The second person's look of concern could turn to abject horror, implying that they were on thier way to pick up their kid who might presumably be on that very bus. The rescuers could be trying to help the kids, and the driver of the first car could be staggering out of the wreck tearing at his hair and wailing at the flaming schoolbus (keeping the driver alive gives the viewer an opportunity to empathize with him and feel the mortification of the crime, rather than just thinking "good, the driver deserved to die.") Eeech, that would truely be a brave commercial, my skin crawls thinking about it. It might be something for MADD to take up. You could throw in some of the Crass song What the Fuck, (eg: "froze, by the horror of your act, compelled to stay... ...what the fuck were you thinking, what the fuck?") though comparing irresponsabile driving to nuclear proliferation and war may be a bit overboard. The irony of using Crass in a commercial would be totally worth it though.

A much more restrained counter to the "driving excitement" meme could show a bunch of richly dressed people in fancy, fast cars; creeping along in stop and go traffic. Some poor schmuk in a Viper could be struggling to manage moving slow enough as he engauges the clutch and the giant motor grabs. A voiceover could say, "How exciting is this, really?"

More relatable: have more average-looking people in average cars set in a drab, gray commute. They move along at a high speed that seems slow, mouths ajar, coffee quivering in one hand, head leaning limply a bit... a flicker off attention and a scowl crosses the driver's face as somone cuts him off, then back to zombiehood. The voiceover could say somthing to the effect of "Feel cheated? Do something more exciting that chauffuer" then have the driver look over to an Avee-driven car with its passenger doing somthing more exciting (eg: anything).

Emphasizing the mechanical aspect could also be a compelling approach: show people reacting stiffly and mechanically - robotically, in a word- to turn signals and traffic lights. The voiceover could say "You're not a machine, why treat yourself like one? Let Avee drive."

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