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End-of-the-year sales are so tempting (Shendart)
End-of-the-year sales are so tempting (Shendart)

Road Sage

Why I'm a sucker for year-end clearance deals and car commercials Add to ...

I normally buy my cars in late fall. At least, the past two were purchased in late November and early December. I’ve never been quite sure why that is – but after an evening staying up until 1 a.m. on a Monday night watching NFL football, I have a few ideas.

I buy cars in late fall because, by that time, the steady barrage of advertising and social media, beginning with “back-to-school savings,” has broken down my psyche. Automobile manufacturers are not dumb. They know who I am. They know who everyone is. They know how to make us want cars. It starts by knowing the demographic.

Judging by commercials that aired during the game between the Los Angeles Rams and the San Francisco 49ers, my demo is as follows: Along with liking football, I am a North American male who consumes an average of three pizzas a week; I ardently believe that eating KFC will save me time and make my family happy; I would, given the right set of circumstances, be willing to try “Snapple Spiked Tea Vodka;” I believe I will one day require a truck that can haul 12,000 pounds and am keenly aware of the Gregorian calendar, which was promulgated in 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII.

I mention the calendar because many of the car commercials talk about the year ending as if it were the apocalypse and how, in anticipation of this cataclysm, they’re “clearing out” the 2016 models. These ads always tempt me. I like a deal. I’m the guy you see at Mark’s Work Wearhouse on Sept. 30 buying ill-fitting cargo shorts because they’re only $10. So, if you tell me I can get the car I’ve been coveting at a reduced rate just because the year is ending, you’re hitting my weak spot.

These advertisements, however, are also a cause to pause.

I sense an underlying derision in their voice-overs. There’s an element of “we’re getting rid of these lame hunks of crap to make room for cars that the adults are going to buy.” I feel lied to. All year, they’ve been talking about how great the 2016s are, and now they can’t wait to unload them on every slack-jawed desperate loser in need of zero-down financing.

Other car commercials promise to give consumers “employee pricing.” They march some poor wage slave out in an ugly corporate golf shirt and he tells us that for a limited time, regular people can get the low prices normally reserved for those who work there in sullen resignation.

Pardon? How is this appealing? Am I supposed to be impressed? Why do your employees routinely get better prices than me? Isn’t the customer supposed to be king? That’s like coming home and ecstatically telling your wife that this year you’re going to get her “mistress-quality jewellery” for her birthday. You’ve got your priorities mixed up.

And yet, despite all this apparent self-awareness I often find myself at a dealership in December signing a piece of paper that will tie me to a monthly fee and a new ride. At the end of the day, car makers know me, they know I love cars and they know I know they know and that even though I know they know I know they know, there is no way I can resist the urge for a new ride.

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