Just a quick bit of morning incredulousness today – whilst half-listening to the radio (Five Live, for reasons to be explained separately) an ad came on featuring a made-up scene where one man is describing to his friend the benefits of owning the new Volkswagen Transporter. One of the supposed benefits of the new model, the man explains, is that it has a lower maintenance cost than the previous model and, by implication, other vehicles in its class.
Leaving aside for now the question of why anyone would be influenced in their choice of vehicle purchase by something they’d heard on the radio – essentially as valid as overhearing someone talking about how good their car is in the pub, only instead of people who genuinely held that opinion you’re listening to people who are being paid to make specific claims – the bit that slapped me in the face as if to indicate the ludicrousness of the situation was the nature of the claim made rapidly at the end by The Voice.
The Voice is the thing customarily heard at the end of any commercial which makes a claim about a product. It’s usually someone speaking incredibly fast listing all of the caveats and reasons why what you’ve just heard may sound better than it actually is. When my parents talk about having been “fast talked”, I immediately think of The Voice. I guess the idea is that they gloss over the potential pitfalls of taking the prior claims at face value so quickly that you’re not supposed to hear what they are, and the only reason they’re doing this is because the advertisers are legally required to make some mention of the fact that the claims they’ve made in the advertisement may not be strictly what you might interpret them as. Words read out by The Voice sound as if they’re being spoken in 4-point italic greyed out font. Fans of The Simpsons would immediately be able to give examples of The Voice such as “Cheques-will-not-be-honoured” or “Real-institute-may-not-match-photo”.
In this particular case The Voice rattled out, like a road train thundering past over a cattle grid:
As I said: I’m pretty good at deciphering this sort of thing, because I immediately instinctively pay more attention when my bullshit radar switches on, so I’ll translate it into how a normal person would read it:
Maintenance cost reduction achieved by enlarging service interval.
So there you have it folks – you can save money on the maintenance cost of your vehicle by buying this new vehicle, and then having it serviced less often. If the tedious pricks in charge of this advertising initiative ever turned their deft hand to selling orange juice then they’d probably be extolling the virtues of their amazing New Improved Juice Pack, which lasts TWICE as long as other cartons of juice (longevity-time-of-carton-achieved-by-drinking-one -80-millilitre-serving-once-a-month). Perhaps we could all enjoy eternal youth next by only celebrating every fourth birthday.
It partially reminded me of the shampoo that my mother used to buy when we were young – it was one of those Amway products, and almost every shower-time was accompanied by the mantra “Only use a little bit – it’s very concentrated, so you’ve only got to use a little bit!”. What I think was actually going on was that it was just extremely expensive, hence using less of it – whilst not assisting much in the hair-cleaning department – meant that a bottle would last longer. And it’s only just occurred to me that this may have been a contributing factor in why it was that my brother and I sported buzzcuts for the majority of our pre-teen lives.
I can’t help wondering whether I’ve fallen for whatever ploy this advertisement’s trying to make, however – it seems a bit silly, on the face of it, for a person to make a decision to buy a new van based on a radio ad: probably the furthest form of advertising from the experience of van selection possible. You can’t see pictures of it, nor gather any useful statistics about the vehicle’s specifications. You could be listening to the ad whilst in another van, I guess, and sit there wondering about how much nicer the new van is relative to the van you’re currently in. However surely by making me write this post, and therefore by extension be discussing the brand and the product, I’m now getting the name in front of all of you (yes, you, the millions of people reading this).
Well, to conclude abruptly – I don’t know anything specific about Volkswagen Transporters, but it’s my firm opinion that the people they’ve hired to advertise them are wankers.
The prosecution rests.