You say you want an evolution? Acura’s re-brand stalls out.

15.07.2013

Charles Darwin, call your agent. American Honda has pre-empted your theory of evolution and put it in the service of an automobile. Not just any vehicle, but the Acura MDX, “the world’s smartest luxury SUV.” Just how smart is this SUV? What goes into its elevated IQ and evolved superiority? Rear view cameras? Parking assists? Impaired-driver alerts? Fabulous gas mileage?

We never learn because the :60 spot, captivatingly shot, edited, narrated (by a woman!) and scored, doesn’t tell us these things. Instead, we see a stylish take on evolution—a man scaling a tree (our simian forebear?), a woman gazing at mountains (Eve?), a baby playing with dirt, random images of pebbles and other visually interesting stuff, an astronaut, a cue-the-angels beauty shot of the car, whose silhouette is indistinguishable from that of every other high-priced behemoth on the road. None of which tell us anything about the MDX but a lot about…I don’t know. You have to go to the website (or wait for the dealer spots) for the car’s more concrete and presumably investment-worthy attributes.

Honda is up against serious competition in the luxury market, but I’m not sure that this approach has the power to drive the sales and “conversation” that Gary Robinson, Acura’s brand and national advertising manager, is seeking. It just seems awfully pretentious and beside the point.

Meanwhile, the commercial ends with the claim: “If your quest is to build the world’s smartest luxury SUV for mankind, you must hold yourself to the standard of mankind.” Considering the state of the world today, that’s setting the bar pretty low.

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