Attempting to keep up with the Joneses



I was viewing a very "telling" television car commercial the other day. In this particular TV ad, the husband and wife look out the window querying what luxury SUV their neighbors recently purchased. The couple had to know what awesome vehicle their neighbor just brought back home. The twosome needed the answer, like yesterday. They wonder how the neighbors were able to afford such a luxury. Perhaps the man of the house got a raise at work? The "jealous" husband watching the spectacle pulls out a pair of high -powered binoculars to find that answer. As the jealous husband is watching the successful couple, the luxury SUV owners notice that their neighbors are intrigued with their high-end purchase. So, one of the new luxury SUV owners waves back to the couple knowing full well that they are well ahead of their neighbors in the automobile department.

The average Joe out there might say, "What's so 'telling' about this automobile television ad?" The car ad is "telling" because it says so much about our society. So many of us try to "keep up with the Joneses" by acquiring the goods our neighbors possess. Who knows when this mentality developed? Maybe this thinking was always with us as humans since Day One. Even if this mentality was always with us, I'm thinking it has only intensified since the post-World War Two days in the late 1940s onward. From buying that first television set to owning the latest version of the iPhone, way too many of us will go to any lengths to "compete" to own the latest toy.

Of course this "keeping up with the Joneses" idea is a central theme in a modern day television car advertisement. Those who are interested in purchasing or leasing a new vehicle see this ad and instantly connect with its message. The ad is brilliant because it makes the car buying viewer feel that he or she can indeed make that luxury SUV purchase possible. Once that dream of possessing that luxury SUV is achieved, that consumer goes from car buying viewer to luxury SUV owner, thus raising his or her status. The car manufacturer wins. The ad agency who produced the ad wins. The local auto dealer wins. And the consumer wins. Mission Accomplished! Really? Do we really need more toys like this luxury SUV? Hey, it's a free country, you may purchase what you wish, but is something like this a true necessity? Does it seriously raise your life status?


We can go on and on with the automobile ads' tactics to lure customers with various techniques. Think of the ad featuring current Atlanta Falcons Head Coach Mike Smith. In the television ad, Smith comes up to a Falcons tailgater asking him what he's grilling outside of the venue where that particular day's game will be played. If this ad is authentic - which is ought to be- then why is the head coach hanging out with the tailgaters stealing their food? I heard the team is not doing so well these days, so shouldn't the coach be inside inspiring the players? The tailgater discloses what he's cooked up for the afternoon. After sampling the goods, Smith enthusiastically asks what type of pickup truck the tailgater owns. It turns out that it's a Ford. Coach Smith gives his approval. The two give a fist bump and then Smith steals something off the grill. A connection is made between fan and the rather famous coach. The pickup truck-buying viewer thinks to him or herself that if he or she got a pickup truck then a connection to Coach Smith could be made in their world. Of course, that connection will probably not happen, but hey, there is a possibility that it could happen. I mean, isn't it a goal in your life to have the Atlanta Falcons' head coach steal your hot dog? If that person goes down to the dealer and buys that pickup on that guess what: Mission Accomplished!

I'm not sure what the Lincoln luxury SUV television ads with Matthew McConaughey are attempting to accomplishment. In those ads, the Oscar winning actor drives the luxury SUV at night while contemplating life in general. I'm pretty sure that most found the Lincoln television spots to be quite puzzling. I'm certain that this ad strategy was not created to lure the deep thinkers out there to buy a Lincoln luxury SUV. Rather, it was created to get people to attempt to figure out McConaughey's cryptic messages. According to many ad observers, attention to the ads did not go up due to McConaughey's involvement. Attention to the Lincoln television ads went up because of a series of short parodies that aired on NBC-TV's long-running late night comedy variety program Saturday Night Live on October 25, 2014In the parodies, that week's particular host Jim Carrey does a dead-on impression of McConaughey. Attention immediately was lavished upon the Lincoln ads which most likely translated into greater sales for those luxury SUVs.


The point is that advertising holds considerable sway upon the public. Producers of those ads use techniques to make that connection with viewers. Whether it's "keeping up with the Joneses" or using an Oscar-winning actor to sell cars, there are large segments of the population that fall under the spell of ad agencies' spells to make them feel better than they already do through innovative techniques. 

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