18 August 2009

For the Lexus hybrid, economy and quality should begin with the brochure

Last weekend, I picked up a 38-page brochure for the Lexus RX line of "luxury SUV" motor vehicles - the RX350 and the RX450h, the only luxury SUV with a hybrid petrol/electric engine.

That's an awful lot of brochure for just two models and variants. OK, it's printed on "green" paper, but it sure does use a lot of it.

As you'd expect, the brochure has lots of lovely pictures of shiny Lexuses (Lexi?).

But the brochure's worst excesses can be found in its overblown, amateurish long copy. It tries way too hard, to the point of being nauseating:
The first luxury SUV opened the way to new lifestyle opportunities...
Being socially responsible never felt so remarkable
In doing so, Lexus has created a new relevance...
On steep climbs, the relentless torque lifts you effortlessly from deep valleys to the crests of the hills...
Unfortunately the copy is far from effortless. But it is relentless.

Far worse than the over-inflated (and often meaningless) prose is the grammar. Or rather, the lack of it. Try these:
To look at the RX450h, it gives little away that this is a vehicle that is...
Unlike certain hybrids which are optimised purely for economy, Lexus Hybrid Power achieves both.
"Both"? Both of what?

It's bad enough that the copywriter at (I believe) Saatchi & Saatchi Sydney has been allowed to indulge him- or herself at the expense of efficient and effective communication. But it's absolutely appalling that no-one has stepped in and corrected the grammatical howlers that flow directly from those indulgences.

The father of modern advertising, David Ogilvy, famously sold the original luxury car brand, Rolls-Royce, to Americans using understatement. The ad that carried his most celebrated headline is a masterpiece of letting the facts speak for themselves and the target's imagination and emotions fill in the rest:
At 60 miles an hour the loudest noise in this new Rolls-Royce comes from the electric clock.
You'd think young copywriters would be brought up to speed on this example before being let loose on a luxury car account.

No comments: