Friday, April 9, 2004

Stupid, Stupid Ads!
    — It’s Got a What?!

“Stupid, Stupid Ads!” dissects ads that try to do something underhanded or just plain stupid.

Needless to say, stupid advertising annoys the fuck out of me.  See this item.

The latest one to get under my skin is for the Dodge Ram.  The billboard is about 2/3 black with the truck’s logo, and 1/3 an image of the truck’s rear bumper, with a bumper sticker reading “Yes, it’s got a Hemi!”

So what the Hell is a “Hemi”?  Beats the heck out of me.  I guess it must be something good for trucks to have.  Hmm.

They are showing the bumper, and I’ve seen that those big chrome rear bumpers are not being included on some trucks these days, so maybe this means that this truck has a nice bumper?  Or maybe a “half-bumper” (whatever that might be), since “hemi” means “half”?  (Nope, it’s not the bumper.)

I’ve seen a lot of trucks in past years where there’s no tailgate.  (How can you have a tailgate party without a tailgate?)  They are replaced by a nylon web.  Some people claim that this is to cut wind resistance and thus boost gas mileage, but I’m sure it’s mostly to add another option to the truck which the companies can charge more for by having to do special.  So since they are showing the rear part of the truck, maybe a “Hemi” is some kind of a new half-tailgate?  That could be cool.  (Nope, it’s not the tailgate.)

So called “King Cabs” — space behind the front seat sufficient for people to sit in with only minor discomfort — have been around for years.  As people buy pickup trucks more as around-town vehicles than purely as work vehicles (“metro rednecks”), there’s increasing demand for more in-cab space and the ability to comfortably sit a family of four.  I see now that there are even four-door pickups out there — from Dodge, in fact, and I think they look stupid— so maybe a “Hemi” is one of these super-extended cabs?  (Nope, it’s not the passenger space.)

I finally looked up the ad phrase online.  Turns out that it refers to the HEMI® Magnum engine inside.  (And studies apparently say that 50% of purchasers will pay a premium for the most powerful such engine they can get.  Probably mostly people who never use the truck for more than hauling lumber from Home Depot, I suspect.)

Is advertising successful if it doesn’t tell you what it is advertising, annoys you every time you see it, and eventually builds up enough bile to force you to go to the web to find out what the heck it refers to?  On some level, maybe: it got me to look it up.  But I have no interest in what is being advertised, and I’m annoyed enough to bitch about it in public.  I’d say that qualifies as failure.

Updated on July 12, 2004

Updated on January 11, 2011

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