HYPERVENTILATED PUFFERY COMES STANDARD

How Chrysler's New Ads Lose It in the Tagline

By Published on .

Client: Chrysler
Agency: BBSO Worldwide, Detroit
Star Rating: 2.5

This isn't about the commercials, which are fine. They show a range of Chryslers looking beautiful and well thought out, each with its own set of inspired design innovations.

Watch three good Chrysler ads with bad taglines.
And the voice-over actually provides reasons for buying a Chrysler.

For the Town and Country: "How inspiring can a minivan be? Can it give you seats when you need them and space when you don't? Yes. Can it take a mountain of stuff and make it disappear? With exclusive Stow-and-Go seating and storage, absolutely."

For the Pacifica: "Does it have the government's highest crash-test rating? Yes. Does all-wheel-drive make it more than a minivan? Yes. Does a lower stance make it well beyond the SUV? Yes. The Chrysler Pacifica. That's a lot of yeses for something starting at $29,925."

Fine salesmanship
And that's a kind of salesmanship virtually unheard of in car advertising anymore -- or any advertising, for that matter. So, good for BBDO, Detroit.

But then comes the tagline: "Inspiration comes standard."

Whoa. Isn't that a buzz killer?

Utterly unremarkable slogan
Inspiration comes standard????? Why dress in your Sunday best suit only to put on a pair of scuffed brown shoes? Sure, the slogan is true enough, but it also is utterly unremarkable. What carmaker can't say the same thing? But worse, generic as it is, this claim nonetheless manages to sound like hyperventilated car-ad puffery, which only invites consumers to scoff. Why not something that says more about the brand -- something revealing, something surprising, something, above all, defining.

Like what? Well, not our job. But just this once we'll show how hard it isn't to come up with something trenchant to say. As soon as we finish this paragraph, we are going to write down all the better slogans we can think of in two minutes. Ready? ... Go:

American beauty
Announce yourself
Personality on wheels
Driven to attraction
Arrive
Drive to arrive
Don't just show up. Arrive
A heart of bold
Strike bold
Tool cool

120 seconds
OK, time's up. Granted, none of these is exactly "A Diamond is Forever." We have no illusions to be better suited on the other side of the creative process. Still, in 120 seconds we came up with 10 positive statements of the brand's intrinsic qualities, whereas BBDO, after about 80 years, came up with "Inspiration comes standard." We insist that the worst of our notions, say, "Tool cool" (look, we were running out of time), is vastly superior to "Inspiration comes standard."

Hell, we insist that "Probably won't rust through" is superior to "Inspiration comes standard." We can't be too surprised, considering the numbers of cooks on this sort of broth, that a campaign like this relies on a tagline with zero chance of becoming a catchphrase.

Simply unacceptable
What is hard to believe, and simply unacceptable, is that a line of cars with so much intrinsic brand personality should go out into the media world dressed like this.

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