I’ve given it a lot of thought over the last few days, and I’m convinced I need to be put in charge of Volkswagen. It’s not just because it’d mean getting an assload of money to do a job I’m terribly unqualified for, and get kicked out of with an obscene severance package. That’s only a small part, or most, of it. It’s also because I’ve got ideas. Great ideas. Every one of them so great, in fact, I just might lose them to dementia before I narrow down which one to implement first. Should we start with bringing back that stylish little dingy, the Karmann Ghia? Or how about we put out that press release saying “Okay, we admit it was a mistake to name such an awesome-looking machine the ‘CC'”? Better still, perhaps I should check how soon that tattoo parlor can fit me in to ink “Farfegnugen” across my shoulder blades for my Instagram picture. So many great ideas…
Actually, I already know the first thing I would do: visit the headquarters of VW subsidiary Audi, hunt down the moron executive responsible for the commercial they aired during the Super Bowl, take him to the closest vacant room, and berate him until he’s pickling in his own tears & resigns.
If you’ll recall, Audi’s one-minute ad showed a bunch of kids participating in a go-cart race, one kid being a girl. Despite the aggressive methods of her male opponents, the gritty & clever young lady ends up winning. It was an entertaining video, unfortunately soiled by a voice-over haughtily repeating the long-debunked “gender pay gap” meme (“What do I tell my daughter? Do I tell her her grandpa is worth more than her grandma?”, etc.) In case you aren’t familiar with the debunk, the meme conveniently leaves out many relevant factors (men overwhelmingly choose the most dangerous jobs, women are less likely to uproot for a promotion or raise, etc.) Not only that, when a woman and her male peer have the exact same education, experience, work hours, and productivity, the disparity all but vanishes, and will even tilt in her favor depending on the locale.
The decision to produce & air the commercial wasn’t just stupid, it was Sanders-stupid:
1) The cost of airtime during the Super Bowl is staggeringly high—this year sponsors paid on average $5 million per 30-second spot. Not to say it’s a bad investment, given this game’s audience of far north of 100 million viewers. You can bet the number of viewers thinking about getting a new car ran, conservatively, in the high hundreds, possibly low thousands.
2) The #1 goal of any ad campaign is to convince EVERY viewer to buy the product. Even though that’s pretty much impossible, the businesspeople who hold closest to that mindset are the ones who succeed most. Even if it were possible to land every viewer, however, promoting your product like Audi did is you shouting from the rooftops you couldn’t care less. Let’s not kid ourselves, the more expensive the car, the more likely the people shopping for it know the pay gap claim is a load of donkey droppings. Patronize them (the shoppers) and they’ll patronize your competition.
(100% true: while driving my kids to school this morning, a brand-new Audi A4 pulled up next to me just off the freeway. And. It. Was. AWESOME. Also 100% true: if I were given a choice between getting that A4 at cost and overpaying for a rusty 1975 Pinto, I’d say Giddyup Horsey.)
3) Days before the Super Bowl, Audi basically exposed themselves. A company representative actually admitted to a skeptic on Twitter that Audi pays its female employees less than the males, and defended it using the exact inconvenient truth that debunks the claim. Here’s the exchange, verbatim:
-Audi: “Women are still paid 21% less than men. As a brand that believes in progress, we are committed to equal pay for equal work.”
-Skeptic: “You pay your female employees less than males? You know that’s against the law, right?”
-Audi: “When we account for all the various factors that go into pay, women at Audi are on par with their male counterparts.”
So, the whole story here boils down to this: a corporation spent a megaton of dough with the express purpose of never seeing it again. The moral of the story is this guy’s job needs to die a lightning-quick death. Unless, that is, his job title is “Complete Dunderhead in Charge of Sending Customers to BMW and Mercedes-Benz.”
In other news…
–Like Citizen Kane, only with giant car robots: An ad for the new Transformers movie coming out in June began with Anthony Hopkins’ character saying “You want to know, don’t you? Why they keep coming here? You know, besides another several hundred million dollars at the box office?” Okay, I added that last part.
– Still around, still adolescent: A tuxedoed Justin Bieber (who apparently borrowed a pair of glasses from Martin Scorsese) was one of the sponsors’ featured celebrity spokespeople. For those of you who quickly flipped the channel to avoid vomiting on your nachos, it turns out the ad was for T-Mobile, not Little Tykes’ new line of formal wear.
-He’s got the Right Stuff: He was obviously overshadowed by Tom Brady, but Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan was no slouch in his first championship game-284 yards passing, 2 touchdowns, no interceptions-and no serious fan of the NFL was surprised. He was this season’s league MVP, was 2008’s Rookie of the Year (an uncommon feat for QB’s), has been to four Pro Bowls, and has already out-passed some of his older peers & several members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It wasn’t until Super Bowl Sunday, though, that I got my first good look at him without his helmet on. Note to Mr. Ryan: pardon my shallowness, but may I suggest you be more mindful about how you comb your hair? In many photos and videos of you, you bear a slight resemblance to Donnie Wahlberg, whose current ‘do is, well…let’s just say if he had shown up onstage with the New Kids on the Block one night looking like that, all those girls would’ve been screaming for a different reason. Good luck next year!