So, the new Vauxhall Vectra is ‘designed for the next millennium’. It’s
reassuring to know that the car won’t fall to bits within five years -
as if there’s a rep in the kingdom who needs to keep one that long.
This, as the hype would have you believe, is the Big One. A futuristic-
looking television campaign, posters and press. There’s also a fully
integrated direct marketing campaign and an innovative use of new media,
including CD-Rom packages and an Internet site - the last two of which
are, of course, the key to delivering ratings among, er, fleet car
Arguably, the most interesting aspect of the campaign is the
infomercial, a ground-breaking 12-minute spot which was aired on Channel
4 at 5.22am - yes, twenty-two minutes past five in the morning. Mindful
of the not insignificant viewing problems this poses - not least of
which is the question of whether 12 minutes of prime time (let alone
this slot) will ever be enough to undo what Jeremy Clarkson did for the
Vectra on Top Gear recently - Vauxhall thoughtfully provided the Video
Plus number in press ads, in order that we could all programme our
Suitably impressed, I turn to my national daily newspaper; highly
expectant, thirsty for knowledge. But, wait, what’s this facing my daily
fix of Pamela Anderson? Looks like an ad. In fact, I’m sure it’s an on-
the-run colour insertion. Trouble is, I can’t read it - well, I could if
I had half an hour to spare and a pair of binoculars. You see, in all
their enthusiasm, and I’m sure the visual or chromalin looked great in
the hand, the creative johnnies (and the client, for that matter) have
failed to consider the impact of the ad in situ and in the context of
the limitations of today’s OTR. I could go on and talk about legibility,
clarity and base concepts, like keeping it simple (what the hell is
elastokinematic suspension anyway? Who really cares?), but I won’t.
Fact is, the car may be designed for the next millennium and the media
plan has got all of today’s bells and whistles. But the press ad I can’t
believe was designed for this particular medium. In fact, its impact is
such that it’s probably already a chip wrapper.
Want to rant? Send your 400 words, please, to Stefano Hatfield.