Thursday, June 14, 2007

What's currently making me spew blood-flecked bile. . .

Well, I exaggerate slightly; but there's an ad campaign for Alfa Romeo that's definitely been getting me a little aerated lately. Perhaps you've seen either the TV commercial or the press ads, which present us with a series of lies that we might tell ourselves in order to justify spending some ridiculous amount on the shiny hunk of metal pictured.

The lies are far too boring for me to remember, but they are all concerned with dull technological gizmos and worthy-sounding safety features sported by the car in question. And they are followed by an endline which informs us that "The truth is, it's an Alfa Romeo".

What exactly is so hateful about these ads? Their insufferably knowing smugness. The advertiser and their agency not only assume that we are so enslaved by desire for their product that we're prepared to engage in elaborate self-deception to acquire it; they actually have the nerve to tell us that we feel that way - clod-hoppingly spelling it out for us. ("Here are the pathetic lies you tell yourself, you poor besotted fool, and here's what we all know to be the undeniable truth!")

In persuasive communication, it's important to be as clear as possible about what readers think or feel. But it's always a bad idea to tell them what they think or feel. They prefer to think or feel it all by themselves. And, even if they do harbour the thoughts or feelings ascribed to them, they tend to rebel - or even, as in my case, feel insulted.

The insight that there are people out there who passionately desire an Alfa Romeo, but feel they need to rationalise such a major purchase, may or may not be a valid one.


At 2:49 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

At last, a kindred spirit! This is the only ad that provokes angry reactions from me every time it airs (well maybe not the only one - the strapline 'total first pint refreshment' has me erupting on a regular basis)

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