Taurus dream ads put you to sleep

By Published on .

Client: Ford Motor Co.
Agency: J. Walter Thompson USA
Rating: 2 stars (out of 4)

Of the redesigned Ford Taurus, the introductory anthem says, "It's just like a dream you can hold in your hands."

Holding a Taurus in your hands? What a load of bull.

And what a disappointing unveiling of the stylish, streamlined family sedan. The new Taurus TV campaign is saccharine and smarmy and too short on particulars. The jingle is positively insipid, there are too many close-ups of handsome people being automotively fulfilled and not enough specifics about the improvements themselves. Furthermore, the corporate slogan, "Have you driven a Ford lately?"--which suggests that the company has been selling lemons until very recently--should have been discarded long ago.

So once again and as always, Ford Motor Co. and J. Walter Thompson USA, Detroit, are out there with demonstrably uninteresting car advertising.

Therefore they will sell only 30 zillion new Tauruses.

They will do so for the same reasons they sold 30 zillion old Tauruses without the benefit of a single interesting television commercial:

1) They have a quality product,
2) ideally suited for the needs of the marketplace, with
3) great distribution, promoted by ton after ton of
4) mediocre advertising.

In which case, with gross rating points and brand awareness being purchased by the railcarful, Ford's imperative is more or less the same as the physician's: First do no harm.

Under these circumstances, car commercials are almost never any good because they needn't be. Not only is there no penalty for lackluster or cliche-ridden advertising, the game is stacked to encourage it. Media costs being what they are, what drives the creative is risk aversion. Ads needn't be brilliant. They need only be safe, concept tested, copy tested, dealer approved and free of flaming gas tanks.

Ford itself manufactures six of the top 10 vehicles sold in America, and if you can cite a single memorable commercial for any of them, the Ad Review staff will drive to Dearborn and sing the Taurus jingle through a bullhorn:

It's just like a dream you can hold in your hands.
Taurus stole your heart once. It'll steal it again.
It's promises made. It's promises kept.
It's a dream within reach, and it's you at your best.
Taurus--making the dream come true for you, making the dream come true.
It's a cherished part of the American heart, a vision that's shinin' through.
Taurus--making the dream come true for you. Making the dream come true.

We'll sing it. But we won't take questions. For instance, if you're wondering which cherished part of the American heart they speak of, we can only guess. Cup holders?

Actually, when this campaign focuses on cup holders, the car's fluid lines and 100,000-miles-between-tuneups, it has our undivided attention. What's maddening isn't that the spots are unextraordinary. What's maddening is that ordinary brand benefits, salient copy points and other valuable information are buried beneath the extraordinarily pompous lifestyle drivel.

And for what? Though a shiny new car in the driveway may be part of the American Dream, Taurus has no particular claim on it. Simply making the claim, no matter how much the advertiser dreams of fulfilling it, will never make the dream come true.

You can e-mail Bob Garfield at [email protected]

Copyright October 1995 Crain Communications Inc.

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