2013 Toyota Avalon Commercial: Does Following the Crowd Really Require “Courage?” [The Ad Section]

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By Don Klein

Avalon Commercial Blog

Award-winning ad man-cum-auto journalist Don Klein knows a good (or bad) car commercial when he sees one; the Ad Section is his space to tell you what he thinks of the latest spots. The ad’s rating is depicted via the shift pattern at the bottom, but everyone has an opinion when it comes to advertising, so hit Backfires below and tell us what you think, too.

As citizens of today’s wired world, we’re subjected to countless advertising messages every day. Commercials on our tablets, pop-ups in our smartphone apps, old-school print ads and posters, and even matchbook covers (yes, those are still a thing) all compete for our attention. Cutting through the clutter has always presented a challenge for ad agencies, but doing so now is tougher than ever, so I applaud the creative team for this Avalon ad for coming up with a visual device that gets and holds the viewer.

Indeed, watching that underwater ink cloud take the shape of the new Avalon is mesmerizing, but that’s the problem with this commercial: The visual gimmick is a lot more interesting than the car it’s touting. I suspect that the copywriters might have realized this too, since they dug deep to come up with words that are equally dramatic (despite the strangely low-key voiceover read): “Let’s take every drop of courage. Every ounce of inspiration. Every bit of determination.”

Whoa—did he say every ounce of courage? Courage is when you run into your neighbor’s burning house to save his kids, or dive into an ice-choked river to rescue a puppy. If forced to apply the analogy to automotive design, “courage” would be replacing the handsome previous-gen Acura TL with one whose grille looks like Alfred E. Neuman’s grin. That took courage. Or Pontiac coming to market with the hideous Aztek. We’re talking major cojones there. But executing a redesign on a car that made the Datsun B210 look sexy by comparison hardly required bravery. If that took every ounce of Toyota’s courage, they shouldn’t admit it.

But they are right to claim inspiration, no question there: The new Avalon’s styling—it’s handsome, to be sure—appears to draw from Hyundai, Infiniti, and even the second-gen Chrysler Sebring (as we pointed out in our first-drive review). So while the car is indeed nice looking, but hardly “radical.” Although the copy says the new Avalon “goes where we’ve never gone before,” the Avalon’s exterior designer, Miljan Jevremovic, summarizes the design as a “true Toyota.” So which is it? It can’t be both.

But back to the ink effect. The creative team used it because it’s interesting and unique, and that’s good. But then they abandoned it and cut to the “emptying the pool” shot that, to me anyway, conjured thoughts of water damage à la Katrina or Sandy. Subliminal? Yes, but much of advertising is, and even if I’m among …read more
Source: FULL ARTICLE at Car & Driver

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