QOTD: Are They Listening To Themselves? • What’s the Worst Unsalesmanship in a Car Ad?

I’m a professional copyeditor (amongst other things), so I tend to notice thoughtless phrasing. Take a look at the ’83 Caprice ad up there. Yes. It does. It’s got that style. The annoying one. The one where the copy is written. In little sentence fragments, is written with comma splices. But look at the last four little sentence fragments there at the end: You can spend more. The question is, why? Find out for yourself. At your Chevrolet dealer’s. I see, so I should go to a Chev dealer and find out for myself why I should spend more on something other than a Caprice. Were they even listening to themselves? I guess ad agencies really were as perpetually drunk as shown in “Mad Men”.

For at least one car—I can’t remember which, nor find it at the moment—there was an an ad that used the word impact, (as in wow, impressed, amazed, game-changer, etc) which is, ah, rather not a word one ought to use when trying to entice people to think warmly of cars in general or specific. That one falls under Stern’s Law, which I devised one afternoon while listening to a lecture being presented at a technical conference: If your name or your accent sounds even just a little bit German, it’s best if you will never utter the phrase the final solution, even if you’re talking about the developmental direction selected for a headlamp or whatever. I’m just saying.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I went to elementary school in America, and sometimes I ungrammatically asked permission to go to the bathroom. So my hardwired reaction to this slogan Oldsmobile used for a chunk of awhile is
I don’t know…can you?

Then there was Have you driven a Ford…lately?, which Ford used from 1981 to 1998, which is rather a lot of “lately”, isn’t it?

In other words: Yeah, ha ha ha, we sure did make a bunch of piss-poor cars, ha ha ha—maybe you even bought one…or two…or maybe even three or four…or a whole fleet, ha ha ha! But no, seriously, you guys, this time for sure! This line of persuasion rang less of a sour note from Hyundai (“…yes, Hyundai!”), probably because they’d forthrightly made unpretentious cheap cars, without any selfgratulatory babble about Better Ideas™.

It’s not just ads, either; many’s the car writer who can’t seem to stop themself babbling about this or that automaker’s product offensive. Keeps my eye-rolling muscles toned, it does—are they listening to themselves?

How ’bout you? What car ads (and suchlike) have provoked a reaction opposite what was presumably intended?