Thursday, May 24, 2012

Commercial Review: Audi "Alien"

Audi scores a knockout with this funny and lighthearted A6 commercial which finds a young girl believing that her father is an alien. The dad in question talks like an alien, eats alien food, dresses like an alien and most incriminatingly pilots an alien space ship. This commercial works so well primarily because it is funny and would not be seen out of place during the Superbowl. On a more subconscious level it appears that Audi is subtly hinting that driving an A6 will make you one cool parent in the eyes of your kid. Not being in that demographic I am not sure if the commercial succeeds in that regard or if parents even care about being the cool parent. Overall, "Alien" does an excellent job of highlighting the A6's technological sophistication without a tedious adult voice-over as Audi has done in the past.

Monday, May 21, 2012

How 'Ring Lap Times Became Irrelevant

Once upon a time the famed Nürburgring was a great evaluator of vehicle performance as a quick internet search would easily settle an argument between fanboys over which supercar could lap "Green Hell" the quickest. Over the past decade a sizable internet database of 'Ring time developed with help from a few European publications with Sport Auto and its editor Horst von Saurma doing the heavy lifting. Not wanting to miss out on all of the fun a couple of manufacturers decided to begin publishing (and even providing video evidence) of their own lap times and in the process essentially destroying the Nürburgring's reputation as a performance benchmark.

Currently the times at the top of the time sheet for street legal mass* production cars are occupied by runs from Dodge, Lexus, Porsche and GM all without third party verification. The manufacturer supplied times are impressive and the videos are fun to watch but they make comparisons between other times completely useless. The time difference between some of the manufacturer times and their verified third party counterparts* are not insignificant and indicate at best a combination of a professional race car driver, perfect conditions, and lots of laps to ge tthe perfect time. A more cynical viewpoint would have one believing that a particularly healthy example was used which may or may not pass a smog check and so on.

In the perfect world there would be a group comparison test whenever a new supercar came out to challenge the top of the chart, and there have been a few*, but in reality we are forced to compare runs made in various weather conditions. Nevertheless it is much more believable comparing 'Ring times from the same magazine and the same driver with weather being the only unaccounted element rather than comparing highly polished manufacturer times to third party magazine times. So the next time you compare a manufacturer "sponsored" time compared to an Auto Sport 'Ring time remember that comparing the two is like comparing lemons and oranges, both are citrus but don't taste the same.

*The Gumpert Apollo and Donkervoort times are from Sport Auto but neither brand is mass production. The same could be said about the Lexus LFA though.
*A few of the official times are close to what the magazines were able to replicate, many are 20+ seconds apart.
*Auto Bild Sports Cars November 2010 is an excellent example with the 458 Italia, LFA, LP 570-4 Superleggera, Porsche 911 Turbo S, GT-R all tested by the same driver in the same conditions

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Acura Surprises With Great RDX Commercials

Fresh of its great Superbowl ad for the NSX, Acura is of to a good start with its initial marketing strategy for the RDX. Breaking away from its past doldrums of commercials which featured various Acuras in a hangar (looks like Hangar One) with your typical voice over touting Acura's standard Bluetooth or navigation. With the RDX Acura is venturing outside for some cloudy sunlight, waves, and sand in its Gulliver inspired "Chariot" commercial. The RDX is big and powerful like Guliver yet nimble and compact like the Lilliputians, and of course Luxurious. The funny and light tone of the commercial is a great change from the over the top technological approach of the "hangar ads" A second ad, "Car Wash" continues with Gulliver enjoying his time in Lilliput (nice touch is a map of Lilliput in the navigation) perhaps too much.

A third unrelated commercial finds the RDX dodging all sorts of road hazards as if on the set of the new Avengers movie. While not as cool of a concept as the other two ads, the RDX Avengers ad is much better than all of the other Avengers related ads combined.