25 January, 2013

I can't quite put my (middle) finger on it.

It maybe because I'm now too old to buy one and I probably couldn't fit inside it anyway… but the YouTube Ad (there's no way TV would air it) for the new Mini Paceman left me somewhat perplexed. 

Not angry, a bit put out. Like any car ad aimed at the cash rich 22 year-olds – of which there are almost a hundred – it featured uber cool shoreditch-onians who like to hang out in cool places that no-one else knows about.

So, we're in a cool setting, it's night time (cool) there's a soundtrack from the latest cool indie band that no-one's heard of (really cool) and our hero is in a record store (uber super uber cool). So far this is all about being cool and by association – the exterior shot of the record store shows the new Mini Paceman  - I'm getting this is a cool car for cool people 'who listen to bands that haven't been invented yet' (Threadless T–Shirt).

I'm onboard. It's not for me, but I get it. He has the record, he's in a rush. 

We pump up the volume and enjoy the quick cuts of the Paceman zooming round a nondescript but totally cool town, slowing briefly to pick up a small paper bag from a chinese gentlemen. What's inside? Powdered Tiger Claw aphrodisiac? Fortune Cookies, His dog's poop?  We never find out. But we know he's cool because he just drives past and he's simply handed the package in one fluid motion.

More zooming, some swerving, this is what it is to be cool and care free. Suddenly though… some 'drunk' jumps the lights in an identical Paceman and our hero almost ploughs into them. However, the Paceman has good brakes! (duly noted) 

So what does he do? Most of us would go APE SHIT, pounding the horn until it blew the other car out of the way, a series of instantly recognisable hand gestures, some people would even reach down and grab the pipe from under the seat and go to town on the identical car. 

But this is Adland. It's a knowing smile from cool bearded guy and then back on the gas without even a hair out of place. I would be shaking with rage, I'd have probably followed the other car with my full beams on for a mile or 10. But as I say, it's not for me so we'll move on.

We're reaching the climax of the ad now, we've seen the car in action, we get it's for cool cats, now we need a killer punch to end it.

Down an alley we go, it's incredibly clean, there are no tramps, no trash, no needles, no dog poo (twice in one blog post) and the car nimbly works its way round the back streets (it's agile, got it). We then come to a shuttered garage door. 

He's not slowing. 

As we get closer, the doors start to open – has he timed it right? 

Of course he has. The Paceman slides under, he pulls up the handbrake, does a little skid and…we're in his lounge. 

Yep, his garage is his front room…but wait just as we're coming to terms with that… the 'drunk' Mini driver pulls up moments later – not only does he live in a cool garage flat, it's cool 2-car garage flat. 

I won't dwell on this fact too long as I've more important things to dissect – but, who, what, where has this. I love cars, but after a night on the booze I know that I'd rather pass out on the sofa than on the bonnet of a small hatchback.

Moving on, so the 'drunk' turns up, the car stops and they get out of the car. It's a girl. A girlfriend? His sister? Perhaps it's his proctologist (this would make total sense in hindsight). We don't know, it's not that important but let's go with girlfriend, only because she looks pissed at him. 

He smirks as only a cool guy in a car ad can and then we cut back to his boo and she gives him the FINGER! 

What?!? Eh?!! Yep, she gets out the car and extends her middle digit. 

He laughs, she laughs, we all laugh – don't we? 

I'm not sure what I think. Is it cool to swear/use this gesture to sell stuff? 

I fucking love swearing, and do so quite regularly. I know in the ad it's a gesture but isn't it the same thing? People will argue that you see this everyday, but (for me) in an advert it's somewhat more offensive. 

Is it trying to be cool for the sake of it? You could've ended the ad a hundred times differently but does it have the impact of the middle finger? Who knows? I'd be interested to see the TV version to compare. 

Design with Bite is the tagline, but it seems a bit weak after the full on one-fingered salute really. If you're going to do swearing, do it properly - I would've ended with her saying, 'Fuck You and your Mini Paceman you Fucking bearded twat!'

So, is it cool for brands to swear now? I know my parents won't be buying a Paceman, and nor will I, but that's probably the point. I'll see how the swearing in advertising thing goes, but if Heinz Beans turn round and tell me to go 'Fuck Myself' I may write to the ASA.

Watch the ad here

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