This was going to be a little post that basically said “Hey! Have you guys seen the National Car Rental commercial where they actually mention improving ROI through SEO?”
I’ve been loving those commercials, actually, since shortly after they started. I think I was hooked when the third character came along — the woman whose “core competency… is COMPETENCY.” I started mimicking that guy at the boardroom table who squints and points meaningfully when she makes a good point. He’s funny. And after all, she is Princess of Powerpoint!
And above all, I started digging the narrator’s voice. Delightfully over the top theatrical elocution… “pay for a mid-size, and take a fullsizeorrrrabove!!” Before long, “Just like you, business pro. Just like you.” became a catchphrase around our home.
It was only lately that I realized why I loved that voice! It’s Patrick Stewart! Tea. Earl Grey. Hot. Go to the End of the Aisle, Numbah One.
Those ad agency people may be sarcastically ripping ‘business pros’ they don’t really like, but this time, it worked like a charm. The overt takeaway for me as a customer was the main thing: I love being reminded that I can get to the airport and just march over to the vehicles with my Emerald Card. No lineups.
But looking into it a bit more (as I read up on the commercial online), there are actually a few more takeaways. Three, to be exact.
(1) No matter how good something is, some sad “Internet commenters” are going to hate on it. Sure enough, there they were on YouTube, denigrating Patrick Stewart of all people! I have a hard time believing everything is subjective in this life. I mean, “Zoom-Zoom” is stupid in my opinion, and I would never personally buy a Mazda just because of that. But Jean-Luc Picard himself in a brilliant voiceover? Get out of town! So anyway, this week I ran across two really uplifting posts by 37 Signals co-founder Jason Fried. One post praised a car window design, so naturally some commenters jumped all over him, implying that he was a dickhead bragging about his fancy car. Another post praised a warning screen on a check-out process (disclosure: a client of ours) as an example of “defensive design” that sought to ensure that consumers were given options in their means of shipping sensitive goods. And the commenters piled on the company for covering its ass, not going nearly far enough to protect the consumer from all harm (to be perfect they would need to do things such as banning shipment on certain days of the week, going into the red by paying for the expensive shipping method despite not a single competitor doing this, etc.)!
I’m pretty sure if you had a comment field under Edvard Munch’s The Scream, right in the museum, the scrawling commenters would pile on with all manner of scorn… “This is the most overrated piece of crap ever produced!!” “This guy can’t even draw a straight line!” Etc.
(2) The fact that I loved that announcer’s voice for months without realizing it was Patrick Stewart, I think, points to the sheer quality of the production. It also says this: hiring the best isn’t always prohibitively expensive. If you have a radical idea like “Hey, why not hire Captain Jean-Luc Picard for this job?,” why not price it out, and just do it? The best are out there, waiting for your call. And they’re the best for a reason.
(3) Speaking of The Scream, of course, at $120 million, the painting is overpriced, and what’s more, it isn’t the artist’s best work. But if the fact that something is a pop icon or the subject of controversy leads to more people visiting the gallery in Oslo to see all of Munch’s work, and developing an appreciation for art, isn’t that what it’s all about? Similarly, the producers of that commercial, when they are all done, will no doubt be able to point to other, much more creative, projects that they were able to work on because their day job allowed them to produce little pop vignettes like that. Back to the sex and cash theory. People do make advertising because it pays the bills, just as Munch drew portraits of wealthy patrons so they would pay him. Get over it.
Ha ha… I still can’t get over one of the comments on the National ad: ”And who the hell hired the clown with the I-love-my-voice vocals? Talk about clueless on subtlety.”
Clueless indeed, YouTube commenting pro. Clueless indeed.