Have your preferred vomit-spitoon handy? Is your valet at the ready to empty it, post-haste? Good, then you're ready to read the latest pre-Paris Motor Show press release from Infiniti. You also may want to connect some belts to your eyes to harness all the energy you'll make as you roll them.
Here's the full text of the press release, and the associated photo:
HONG KONG – Style and substance that push any preconceived limits.
Soon, Infiniti will share a vision – its soul – on a scale not seen before from the company.
For now, this. For more −
I know, right? Take a moment to rinse your mouth out and collect yourself — I won't mind. I'll be busy trying to figure out how to transmorgrify a bunch of characters on a computer screen into an actual human face I can slap.
This sort of precious, breathless, overwrought crap is the exact same sort of thing that's been plaguing Infiniti — and, really, almost every Japanese luxury car maker — since their beginning. Lacking the long, rich histories of their competing brands, most notably Mercedes-Benz, who has been producing cars for about a century longer than Infiniti, the recent luxury marques have always sought to give themselves instant gravitas by using the word "soul" until you want to retch and making some really, really pretentious commercials.
Just look at this 1997 ad for the Infiniti Q45:
Holy crap. It's like a joke. It has everything: the British spokesperson, a hedge maze, wealthy people in those Eyes Wide Shut masks, use of the word "elegance," and even a fucking swan. Sure, the swan does come in handy as a demonstration of the Q45's raw power which is capable of breaking the grip of a swan's feet! Damn. A full-grown swan, no joke.
This sort of first-semester art school crap has been Infiniti's go-to identity since they started back in 1989. Anyone remember this series of ads?
... or this one, with the geese?
The pretention of these ads is so thick and viscous, I think Infiniti probably actually uses it as differential oil on their 4WD models.
The idea of a car having "soul" isn't the issue here. I absolutely believe a car can take on a sort of inanimate variation of whatever a soul is, in some way, even if it's only granted by the way we humans react to the car. It doesn't really matter how — the point is I know it can happen, but the way it happens has absolutely nothing to do with derivative film school imagery or a luxury car manufacturer telling me how much soul their cars have because they've redesigned their grilles into some ornate mess that they can pay a PR person to tell us was inspired by the waterfalls around Mt.Fuji or some shit like that.
Cars earn their souls, and even the humblest of cars can have the biggest, most profound soul. It has nothing to do with luxury or even a design that they insist is based on the shape of a pair of mating hawks. Cars earn their souls though experiences with people, through genuinely interesting design, though the communicative and distinctive ways they drive. Never through an ad agency.
The root of all this crap stems from the insecurity of youth, I think. Infiniti was founded in 1989, and they're way overcompensating for whatever they think they're missing by not being around since the Spanish-American War.
But they're wrong. They just need to build interesting, engaging cars. That's one simple rule that's really hard to do right, and I think they're trying to take an easy way out by using advertising and PR to build an artificial aura and relevance to their brand.
I don't think it'll actually work, because I think people can sense this sort of vapid, striving posturing right in their guts. And if this PR is any indicator, any upcoming commercials for their new vision — their new soul — are going to be really incredibly vomit-inducing.
I sort of can't wait.