Is Taurus Full of Bull?

September 13th, 2007 by Bob Bly

A recent radio spot for Ford Taurus focuses on safety.

It says that just as you wear a bicycle helmet to ride your bike safely, you need a car built for safety — like Taurus — to drive safely.

In the spot, when a child wants to ride his bike sans helmet, the father tells him: “Put on that helmet or no video games!”

This spot was clearly not written by a parent.

Because a parent would know that the appropriate punishment for not wearing a helmet would be to take away the bicycle — not the XBox.

Consequences must be relevant to the behavior.

My point?

The Taurus spot rings false to me because of this error.

As a result, it distracted me from the sales message about cars, and caused the advertiser to lose some credibility in my eyes.

Am I the only one who has this reaction and too much of a nitpiker?

Or do you agree that any inaccuracies or inconsistencies in copy distract the prospect from the sales message and diminish the advertiser’s credibility?

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This entry was posted on Thursday, September 13th, 2007 at 10:58 am and is filed under Advertising, General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

74 responses about “Is Taurus Full of Bull?”

  1. Michael said:

    I think the Taurus ad is in error because it the analogy seems wrong:

    >…just as you wear a bicycle helmet to ride your bike safely, you need a car built for safety — like Taurus — to drive safely.

    I don’t wear my motorcycle helmet to ride safely, I wear it so I can be protected in the event of an accident. Same reason I wear an armoured riding jacket and boots. My riding skills are not enhanced because of my protective equipment. Likewise, a car being built for safety cannot cause someone to drive safer. On the contrary, there might be an increased chance of the driver riding in an unsafe manner (because the safety equipment/features make him overly confident).

  2. Bob Bly said:

    Michael: I think they meant what you mean: the helmet or Taurus does not enhance your skill — it keeps you safe in case of accident.

  3. SpongeBob Fan said:

    Maybe the Xbox means more to the kid than the bicycle?

    Inconsistences definitely detract, and some detract more than others. This wasn’t an example of extreme nitpicking by any means, but I have certainly heard very peculiar “helpful comments” from customers reported back to me from clients. Usually grammatical but not always. There’s just no making every reader delighted, unfortunately.

  4. Michael said:

    Bob: Ah, I get it now. It just seemed odd to me because the helmet isn’t built, but yet the car is…for safety. That slightly odd comparison perplexed me a bit.

    If my child rides without a helmet, I’m keeping the Atari 2600 for myself! : )

  5. Mike Braun said:

    I am not a parent, but I don’t see much a problem with the saying in question. I do, however, have a problem with the saftey analogy as others have mentioned. You can still “ride safely” without a helmet, the helmet protects your head in the event of an accident. The wording and logic was a little bit off, in my opinion.

  6. Bob Bly said:

    MB: Only a parent would see the problem, because only a parent would know that the consequence has to be related to the behavior. For refusing to wear a bicycle helmet, the logical consequence is: no bicycle.

  7. Dianna Huff said:

    Bob,

    I’ve heard that Taurus commercial and the reason I figured they brought in safety message (which I don’t equate with Taurus) is because Ford owns Volvo.

    What cracks me up? Parents and children riding together — the kids have helmets, the parents don’t. Yes, I’d like the chance to become a vegetable mother to my son.

  8. Ted Grigg said:

    I do see your point and do see a flaw in the parent’s punishment. I would have taken away the bike first and maybe even the Xbox as further reenforcement if had been a repeat violation.

    This lack of connection to reality does divert attention away from the spot if they would have gotten it from me in the first place. A lot of these advertisements don’t manage to get my attention at all. They all start sounding the same unless it’s a product I care about.

    Another reason I don’t pay attention is that most of these general advertising spots work far too hard at being cute rather than letting the product speak for itself with pertinent benefits. The creative executions simply get in the way of the real message.

  9. Adam Covati said:

    Not to beat a dead horse here, but I think the drive safely isn’t supposed to be a reference to your skill. Their analogy, however, doesn’t make their point so well. If you were driving an 82 pinto, with no lights, at night, with failing brakes, you wouldn’t be ‘driving safely’ because your care isn’t safe. You may be very careful, but it’s just an unsafe situation. So if you are driving a ford taurus you are driving safely.

    Aside from that, this is the type of advertising that really works best on the subliminal message. If they play these ads enough you are supposed to just start to associate the taurus with safety unconsciously.

    Speaking of bad ads, what about ditech? I am so happy they changed their style. Not only where the old adds annoying, I actually associated the annoying guy with ditech; thinking of him and ditech as the same. That is subliminal advertising in a way they NEVER intended!

  10. Retro Bicycles said:

    Give me an old cool bicycle, and I’ll ride around the city for days.

  11. Nobby said:

    Don’t know much about the Taurus, But am glad to see that there are still some sane parents around.
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