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|BMW's "Shameful" Greek Used Car Ad|
|Written by Brandy Schaffels|
|Thursday, 24 July 2008 20:39|
Everybody on the American women's blogging network is talking about a recent BMW ad (pictured at the left). And all of them are offended by it.
Yvonne DeVita at Lipsticking.com is fuming, saying "This ad isn't just visually disturbing. The text is also poorly thought-out. It's for USED cars...and it says, "You know you're not the first." Clearly a sexual connotation meant to depict the young girl as...already having had sex, at least once. This, of course, makes her a sex object, for...the men looking at the ad? It's surely not for women."
LearnedonWomen.com says the "sleazy sexual innuendo is marketing to men at its most lazy - not only alienating women who may have been potential BMW buyers, but riling so many women bloggers in the marketing field, and beyond, that it will surely become a negative blogging influence case study."
So I ask my readers the same question I ask myself and my children every time I see a new ad for the first time, before the object for sale is immediately obvious: "What ARE they trying to sell here?"
The women bloggers have lots of conjecture about the message. Lots of angry words about the combination of sexual innuendo and automotive advertising. Lots more angry words about the inappropriate message implied in the tagline printed in rather small white type across the shoulder of a possibly inappropriately-young young girl. Lots of assumptions about what it is supposed to mean. Lots of condemnation of BMW for using such a message to sell its premier used cars. Words that include sexual abuse, pedophilia, and sexual predators.
So what's the message? "You know you're not the first." Most simply described "BMW premium used cars are so beautiful, it won't matter if you're not the first driver."
Is it effective? Well, as everybody in advertising knows, advertising is effective if it gets people talking about the product. Are we talking about the product? Hell, yes! Good or bad, this message is flying all over the blogosphere at broadband speeds while men and women alike look and comment. As copyranter says "Sex and car advertising have of course been diddling each other for decades." And Tracy Clark-Flory at salon.com asks if "Used women are like used cars?" Hmm... more on that later....
Is it appropriate? Unfortunately, perceiving this lovely young woman as "used," is a very bad and offensive image in the United States. However, there has been no discussion of the fact that this is a GREEK ad, meant to sell premium used BMW cars to MEN in GREECE, where the age of sexual consent is 15 years old. Yeah, I checked it. According to Interpol: "Age of consent for sexual activity: The legal age of consent for sexual activity is fifteen (15) years." Whispering: Did you know they also allow nude sunbathing on the public beaches there? Some might also consider that offensive. I would simply like to remind "Different strokes for different folks."
My son is 15 years old, so I asked him to give me his assessment of the ad. First, he placed the girl's age between 16 and 20 years old -- and he sure should recognize the girl's age since he's closest to her demographic. (I don't want to think too much about it, but I'm pretty certain he's evaluated his fair share of girls between the age of 14 and 20.) Second, he said it was stupid. Clearly he's not the intended audience because he can't afford the car and he doesn't live in Greece. But it's also important to note that all these offended American women bloggers are also not the intended audience, since they are not Greek men either. Trust me: BMW marketers spent a lot of time, money, and research developing that ad for its intended market. The fact that we are offended by it only PROVES that WE ARE NOT its intended market.
Regarding the concern over the girl's apparent young age... My son is 15, and I sure don't want to believe that he could be having intercourse. But I am a Puritan American and my beliefs are probably very different than the demographic to which this ad is directed.
Speaking of being a Puritan American, I had a very good friend from Pakistan who once revealed to me that he would be moving back home to marry the bride his mother had arranged for him. I went off on a rant about how primitive, barbaric, and uncivilized arranged marriages were, and he gently helped me see the romantic traditional perspective that he and his family shared. I was embarrassed to learn that my opinion was not the only one, and that the American way was not the official opinion of the rest of the world. And I am quite certain my friend Aamir and his beautiful arranged bride are living a wonderful life together in Pakistan, no matter how barbaric the tradition might seem to some here in America.
So here we are: If anything, I take offense to the image of a woman being compared to a used car. My car has 143,000 miles and looks it (as a matter of fact, so do I). On the other hand, it still offers a darn good ride -- even though we both wish we could be as pretty again as any premium used BMW car, or any premium used BMW model.
BMW has another advertisement starring a beautiful little girl here at Youtube :
Same theme, different presentation: "BMW's premium used cars are so beautiful, it won't matter if you're not the first driver." BMW marketers also spent a lot of time, money, research creating this ad for the American market. It is spot on: young girl, used cars, spoiled innocence. Much better for us Puritan Americans. Probably not as effective in Greece, but this is the one BMW intended Americans to see and is much more appropriate to its audience.