Wednesday, November 28, 2007

O Come All Ye Faithful, Come and Buy a Hyundai

Hyundai's "Duh" ads, you may recall from this very site some months ago, suck. They're supremely annoying, curiously vague, and obnoxiously smug. But at least they didn't used to look like this:

Here is how the conversation went when this ad first came on:

Knitwear M. Groundhog: At least they picked secular songs. Oh wait, here comes a lamb. Where's God?
Windier E. Megatons: Maybe God's the car.

I mean, way to go, Hyundai. Take the worst of your own ads - the stupid faux-scat-singing, the awful smugness of your announcer - and then combine that with the worst of Mazda's ads! The choir, the positioning of the car as a religious icon being worshipped... seriously, nice job. Utterly savvy marketing sense. As usual, nothing says Christmas like crass commercialism.

Of course, you'll note that Hyundai pointedly uses only secular songs - other ads I've seen in this series have used "O Tannenbaum" and "Carol of the Bells," neither of which is overtly religious in the way that, say, the otherwise mainstream "Joy to the World" is. "Winter Wonderland" is particularly secular in that it doesn't even mention Christmas by name (nor does the ad itself), and for that matter it's not even set in a specific month; the lyrical happenings could well be taking place in February (ironically, that link calls it a Christmas song several times despite the fact that it's nowhere in the lyrics).

The question becomes this: is it more sacrilegious or less sacrilegious if you use a totally secular Christmas song and then put a traditional representation of Jesus - the lamb - into the middle of your ad? I think it's pretty bad either way. There are only two explanations here. One is that Hyundai didn't know that the lamb is a common representation of Jesus (unlikely); the other is that they actively wanted that association. If they wanted it, are they really trying to suggest that Jesus would want you to buy a Hyundai? Even in the Mazda tradition, that seems awfully blasphemous. So let's give Hyundai the benefit of the doubt; maybe we should be seeing the lamb being brought forward as part of a presentation scene. Perhaps the car is for the lamb - i.e., Jesus.

[Setting: Nazareth, 16 AD]
Balthasar: Happy birthday, Jesus.
Jesus: Oh man, a car! This rules! Thanks, Balthasar, you're the greatest!
Melchior: Hey, uh, Balthasar, can we talk to you for a minute?
Balthasar: What's up, guys?
Caspar: I thought we went over this, dude. You were supposed to get him myrrh, just like I got the frankincense, and Melchior got the gold... same thing we do every year.
Balthasar: Okay, you know what, you guys got the useful gifts. Myrrh? Fucking myrrh? That's like the shittiest gift ever. "Here you go, Jesus, something that's only useful if you want to work in a funeral home." And you guys won't ever let me give him the gold once and say it's from me. So yeah, I saved up and got him a car. He's 16, he's got his license now, whatever!
Melchior: Just... you know, we're gonna seem like cheapskates now.
Caspar: Whatever, man, you get him gold every year! How do you think I feel?
Melchior: You see, Balthasar? Now Caspar's crying. I hope you're feeling really good about yourself.

I hope Hyundai is feeling really good about themselves as well. It's bad enough you're going to insult the intelligence of the viewer - now you're trying to imply that Jesus himself approves of your cars? Next time maybe stick with that first secular impulse and display your Motor Trend award like Mazda did. Oh, I guess you didn't win one. Duh.


Quivering P. Landmass said...

Do people enjoy hearing the word "duh"? Do people enjoy hearing it seven thousand times in a 30-second spot? Personally, I think it's snotty and annoying. And "Happy Holi-duh" just saddens me.

This could be the worst campaign out there, for many reasons. Worse than Hillshire Farm's "Go Meat," worse than the Wendy's red-hair-on-fat-guys thing. That Mazda Motor Trend commercial looks like Clio material compared to this.

Anonymous said...

You know, you should copyright your Jesus getting a car ad. I could totally see some car company doing that. Except without the profanity. I really did not enjoy the duh thing either, but this is not a step in the right direction.


Andrew N.P. said...

Being in a choir, I don't mind the "duh" so much. In context, it's stupid, but as a syllable to sing when you're just learning the notes, it far outranks "zoom."

This "Holi-duh" campaign, however, could go down in the history books. Mocking the Christian faith is pretty much number one on the list of things not to do in a commercial, especially in America, especially around Christmas. Yet somehow, every one of these ads does it.

Winter Wonderland: a lamb.
O Tannenbaum: a dove.
Carol of the Bells: a dude with shoulder-length hair.

c12h22o11 said...

I said the exact same thing about the dove in O Tannenbaum. Why bother using secular songs if you're going to sneak in religious imagery? I'm sure one could just argue "oh, it's just a lamb and a dove, not Jesus and the Holy Spirit" but why bother having them in there in the first place? They don't do anything, they're just there.

Of course, Carol of the Bells has that dude with the weird Flock of Seagulls hair too, so I need to figure out who he is. Maybe Noah ;)

Anonymous said...

Headquartered in San Francisco, Goodby (actually
Goodby, Silverstein & Partners) is a full-service advertising agency
with «the simple aim of producing the world's best advertising.
They have produced this commericial and Mr. Silverstein and partners obiviously wanted to disrespect Christmas and wanted to irritate Christians.
Is this a man or group or Jews that do not like Christians, I've been seeing a lot of that especially around the holiday season.

Quivering P. Landmass said...

I didn't know Bill O'Reilly read this site...