Christmas is about tradition. It’s about brightly decorated trees, stockings hung by the chimney with care, sugary sweets and savoury dishes, but most of all, it’s about car commercials so crass and contemptible that they make you want to run down the street screaming “There is no Santa!” and finish the journey off by sucker-punching an elf.
Car commercials are all problematic, no matter what season they’re celebrating. Take, for instance, the ones that proudly declare they will offer “employee pricing” to customers. How is this attractive? Why is it your practice to give your employees better deals than your customers? Would you want to go to a hospital that offers employee “curing” once a year? “Finally, the treatments that we normally reserve for ourselves are yours!”
There is, however, something especially dispiriting about the variety of car commercial that surfaces (like so much canine refuse after a December thaw) during the Yuletide season. It’s clear why they exist: like all businesses, car companies have product to move. It’s the end of the year and there are heavy discounts on offer and dealership goals to meet. Yet must these advertisements wallow in the most tacky, hackneyed tropes year after year?
The most common Christmas car spot shows someone giving their spouse a new car bedecked with an enormous red bow. The first half of this sort of advertisement features the giver prancing around a minimalist house getting ready for the big reveal. Christmas morning arrives and the pajama-wearing recipient is led out to the driveway where they find their brand-new SUV. Their surprised reaction is a mixture of religious rapture and sexual release.
Not only are these commercials obnoxious, they are misleading.
For the record, no one has ever given me a car for Christmas, and so I can’t speak from experience. I can confidently guarantee, however, that if you are wealthy enough to give your spouse a new car for Christmas, your spouse will not stand in the driveway in the throes of ecstasy. If you are that rich, your spouse will be accustomed to extravagant gifts and will instead complain about the colour or about the fact it hasn’t got a sun roof. Your wonderful Xmas plan will end in bickering.
Another strain involves children blackmailing or otherwise abusing Santa. In the 2019 Mercedes-Benz’s commercial “The Negotiation,” a child photographs Saint Nick and demands the portly present-purveyor cough up his “sleigh” (a Benz), telling him, “It would be a shame if this went viral.” What kind of kid is so materialistic and grasping he blackmails Santa on Christmas Eve? The kind of kid who grows up avariciously chasing profit at all cost and winds up giving his spouse a car for Christmas.
There are car commercials in which unsuspecting customers are attended to by a bearded salesman who bears a disturbing resemblance to Santa Claus. They find this physical similarity so disorienting that they act as if they’re having a bad acid trip. Others show Santa eschewing his sleigh in favour of a new car. Last year’s Audi commercial depicted a fat-shamed Santa undergoing a year-long fitness regime in which he transforms himself into what can be best described as something Mussolini would have ordered over the telephone.”
So, Christmas car commercials … dumb? Yes. Crass? Yes. Annual? Yes. Ho. Oh. No.
All we can do is enjoy our holidays and look forward to the new year and its accompanying round of car commercials featuring streamers, countdowns and resolutions that involve buying new cars. Prices will never be lower. Buyers can ring in the new decade with unbelievable savings that won’t be beat until the St. Patrick’s Day Sales Events of 2020.
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