What does the world cost? Oh well, then we'll just take a small coke.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Prius. No.

If you're like me, you watch television whenever one of your close friends is being arraigned or when a significant sporting event demands attention. A couple weekends ago, I managed to watch all three Final Four games, including the requisite advertisements which were, I must admit, almost as entertaining as the spectacle itself. Almost.

Besides the "Dude" ad from Budweiser, which I hope doesn't catch on more than it already has (do we really need more reasons to say "dude?") and the "number one cheers" commercial (also from Budweiser), the funniest ad was for a car.

I know, a digitally enhanced jumble of carefully engineered steel and rubber gliding through a closed course under the controlled guidance of a professional driver could be described by many adjectives, but "funny" isn't one of them. Most car ads are designed to appeal to women, so the 30-second spots may show safety features or the on-board computer, but they are unlikely to make the viewer laugh out loud, to spell out a common internet acronym.

One car ad broke the female appeal mold and, in the process, invited a good natured ribbing.

Toyota had the most unintentionally hilarious sales pitch for its Prius, the most fuel efficient car on the road, according to heavily suspect EPA mileage figures. Yes, FCN did just link to Mother Jones. That's not an endorsement; you'll get over it.

If you haven't seen the "Yes" ad for Prius, you need to. A grainy YouTube copy (vaguely reminiscent of a pirated camcorder capture) is embedded below:

On it's face not that funny, right?

Pictures of smiling upper middle class Americans hopping out of or into their new hybrids with the word "yes" emblazoned on a convenient sheet of bright white cardboard. Only one of the happy owners (we assume they are owners and not starving actors willing to sellout for the commercial interests of the bourgeois) holds up a sign that says "si." We can tell from the man's complection that he is French, where the word "si" means "if." This man is undecided and is raising a sign that says "if my wife agrees to the exorbitant monthly fees we will owe Toyota for the next three years and if I can convince my engineering buddy that battery disposal is not that big a deal, I will consider purchasing this vehicle."

And all along you thought "SI" stood for Smithsonian Institute.

The ad played several times; Toyota has to spend that energy conservation grant money somehow. On the third time through, I noticed how little is said about the product itself. The fuel efficiency, safety and crash test ratings, dealership locations, onboard features and legroom dimensions are all omitted in favor of the not so subtle admonition to say "yes."

It's like the DEA's "Say 'NO' to drugs" campaign, except the key word is changed to "yes." And we aren't talking about drugs. And that PSA isn't run anymore. Now we are counseled to talk with our parents about drugs, so they can tell us if we should use them experimentally or not. Come to think of it, the Prius ad is nothing like the drug commercials.

If you look carefully, you might be able to see some information about the Prius in the fine print at the bottom of your screen and at the end of the spot. It doesn't come through legibly in the YouTube copy I've embedded, so you can take my word for it or start watching a lot of TV.

In sum, Toyota is trying to sell women cars by omitting important information and just raising a white sign emblazoned with the desired response. Here at FCN we think that's sexist, childish and pretty doggone funny.

So funny, in fact, that we have made our own ad for Prius. It uses a little reverse psychology to sell the cars. Ever been told you can't step on the grass? What did you do? Ever been told you can't spend twenty grand on a new car that has a hard time going faster than 70 MPH (unless being driven by Al Gore's son)? What would you do?

That's what I thought. Anyway, here's the image. Hopefully Toyota will use it in its next campaign. Who knows, it might actually help sales.


Daddy Warbucks said...

I didn't know that Honda made a Prius.

Anonymous said...

The person holding the sign that says "si" is a lady, not a man.

Anonymous said...

Um, you're kidding, right? "Si" is Spanish for "yes".

big mo said...

they're kidding.

they tend to do that.

AMRunner said...

Anon: You think it was a woman.

Anonymous said...

"we can tell from the man's completion (sic)...."
what is a completion?? what did he complete? (if that's how you meant it?) BTW, it was most definately NOT a man, but rather, a woman. I can't believe I spent a minute of my life looking at that stupid commercial. If you would watch less TV and her commercials maybe your grammer would come together, not to mention spelling. (my grammer and spelling in this comment don't count. :) )

anon2 said...

anon, it's a joke, ok? french "men" look like "women"

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

...next thing we know that "man" will be pregnant and selling to the world they are really....DUDE!

Anonymous said...

"big mo said...

they're kidding.

they tend to do that." lol very true (and it was out loud)