Thursday, November 17, 2005

Some of you (all five of you...) know that I am really into cars. REALLY into them. Not so much that I clip pictures and paste them up in my cubicle, but enough that I peruse all of the car mags and several of the websites. For some reason this has landed me on several mailing lists that have allowed me to go off to various events and drive some serious iron: Mercedes and Cadillac have both invited me to drive their best, and at one GM event (sparsely attended because of a morning downpour) I got to drive a new Corvette with the following instructions from the GM guy in the seat next to me: "Keep it in first and stand on the gas until I tell you to brake. If you wreck it, I'll take responsibility"

Is there more of a way to release the inner 5 year old?

Of course, I'd never buy one of those things- I'm just too cheap. I grind my teeth writing the check to the insurance company as it is, and I don't want to give up the feeling of smug superiority that using 8 gallons to go 200-odd miles gives you (cheap and smug, how does he remain single?)

Having said that I wrestled the LA Times to the ground last Thursday and saw that the public was being invited to preview the 2007 Escalade at it's premier at the 2 Rodeo mall in Beverly Hills. Usually, I hate SUV's: I find it the epitome of irony that Boomers railed against their parent's giant gas-guzzling chrome laden dinosaurs now drive something that makes a '79 Chevy look like a Honda, but I have an soft spot for Cadillacs. Especially the new ones. Their fractal styling I find refreshing after years of jellybean cars, and the roadster one I drove made me wish for Lotto winnings.

So, I wandered over to take a look.

Well, it was a gorgeous SUV. Really pretty and looked well put together. Makes the old one look like a Model T. Not for me, but I'm sure it'll sell.

But where they really dropped the ball was the whole "event" One Escalade (white and gorgeous) was merely parked at the end of the fake street that bisects the 2 Rodeo mall. No signs, nobody from Cadillac nearby to tell people about it, no nothing. There were people all over the car, even though it looked as if the Valet had just parked it there by mistake and
wandered off to Il Fornaio for a coffee. Would it have killed them to have someone there, at least to direct people to the storefont down Rodeo where the other cars were? Guess so. At first I thought it was because I got there at the very start of the event, so I decided to drop back later. Same deal.

Walking down the street, you got to a storefront. The window has a gorgeous XLR-V in it, and the store has been christened "Chrome Couture" (how cute). There was a woman outside in a black suit, who I think may have been from GM, but since she was staring off into space, I wan't sure. But then I remembered seeing her earlier at ten AM, so unless she was comatose, she worked there. She certainly wasn't making eye contact with anyone, or smiling. I went in. There was a BHPD officer in a chair chatting with someone else in a black suit next to the (stunning-really stunning) XLR-V roadster. There was another black suit standing by a desk by the door. None of them remotely noted my existence.

The thing that came to mind was "why'd they bother?" The only thing I could think of was that thay had the
store for a whole week, so at the last minute, they decided to "invite" the public. Invite them, but treat them like worse-than-D-list. I mean, I realise that I'm not Kanye West or Paris Hilton so I can't be invited to the cool-kids party, but I was there. Isn't that the point?

Granted, I'm not an MBA or a marketing genius, but if the people you are paying to host this event in your name and
represent your company (and may even work for you) cannot pretend to be excited enough about your new cars to actually greet someone who came in to your "store", or at least not act so very put out that they are forced to interact with the hoi-polloi when they were so recently rubbing shoulders with Tara Reid, then why the hell should I get excited about them?

What a freaking waste.

1 comment:

Lily said...

Wondering if this is not an example of the trend to **treat the customers badly so they want you more** type of approach. The idea to stand around and act like your sales are so strong that the public would be LUCKY to come take a gander. Admittedly this can backfire, but sometimes this is intentional. "I don't need you" type of thing. See, with "Aspirational Marketing" you are trying to give the impression that by buying the Escalade you can gain entry into a lifestyle you currently are not a member of. (I say thank Goddess for that though) The sales staff play hard to get with the customer. Customer thinks "Don't you want to come try to sell to me? Hey, whats wrong with me? Pander to me, dammit!!"
I mean lets face it, nobody wants to be told "You look like a Hyundai sorta guy".