You wouldn’t think that having a lovely, absurdly fit woman shill your car would be a mistake, but the clever PR people at Buick managed to find a way. It’s not really the fault of the spokeswoman or the car, specifically; it’s more because of a trend in modern cars that makes an adult woman in a convertible look like a toddler in a bathtub.
Right away, let’s be clear that we all know this ad—and, likely this car—isn’t targeted at most of our site’s regular readership. The Buick Cascada is a warmed-over Opel, but at least it’s a four-seat convertible, which is a good thing. That absurdly fit woman in Buick’s Facebook Cascada ad is Tracy Anderson, a woman I never heard of until today, most likely because she is a fitness guru and I treat my body like the floor of a movie theater.
Tracy Anderson and I do share one thing in common physically, as disturbing as that is to consider. Even though she’s built like an idealized piece of Greek statuary and I’m built like a recliner that’s been abandoned in a ditch, we’re both what would be considered “small” human beings.
This fact is one of the reasons why this Buick ad is such a disaster. Even if you’re able to somehow manage to ignore the insipid “quick tips to get mind and body summer ready,” which seem to involve smoothies, the idea that in summer you’re “on show,” and the baffling idea that sweat makes “skin stay tight to the muscle,” whatever the fuck that means, even if you’re able to get past that and just focus on the car-related parts, there’s a huge problem:
She seems uncomfortably small for that car.
Some internet research showed that Tracy there is all of five feet tall; small, sure, but not all that unusual for a woman. I’m only about half a foot taller, which is I guess a little more unusual, but still (I’m told) within the range of normal human scale.
It’s not even like the Cascada is a particularly big car at all, which just supports the larger issue: modern cars are ridiculously bulky, to the point where it can be difficult for a smaller person to deal with.
It’s actually less about overall size than it is about just a certain sort of bulk. High beltlines, thick pillars, high hoods, all of these add up to make cars that just feel massive. There are good reasons for a lot of these things, mostly having to do with safety: if you want a car full of airbags, you have to cram those airbags somewhere.
That still doesn’t change the fact that Buick made an ad where their car’s spokesperson’s head doesn’t even quite reach the headrest of the seat.
Is she comfortable in there? Can she really see over that hood? Does the seat not elevate any more than that? For a woman so concerned with her skin being “on show” when the top’s down, I don’t think she really has to worry, since in the ad it mostly just looks like a tuft of blonde hair blowing around behind the steering wheel.
This woman really should be doing a Facebook ad for a Miata or a Fiat 124 or something. Something she can sit in and drive without having to stand on the seat to adjust the rear-view mirror or pull down a visor.
Look at her walking up to the Cascada here: it looks like Buick is building these on surplus Hummer platforms in this picture. I’m pretty sure that’s not the case.
She’s being paid what I’m assuming is a good chunk of money (or maybe she’s taking payment in organic honey or some shit) by Buick, so she’s playing it cool, but I know how she feels in there. I feel that way in the new Mustang convertible, for example. It’s fun, sure, but I’m never not aware of the car’s massive bulk, and my tiny, parasite-like presence inside it.
I know I’m not telling anyone anything really new here: people at the extremes of human size will always find difficulties with getting in and out of and driving cars: big people have as many (or maybe even more) issues than smaller people.
And, we all know that, generally, cars are getting way, way bigger. Park a 1980s Civic next to a 2016 Civic sometime. So, we know all this. But it’s still jarring to see it in an ad, especially because Buick must not seem to notice it at all, since they picked a spokesperson that can barely see over the dash.
Am I making too big a deal about this? There must be something that helps sales with bulky cars, because so many modern cars are scaled this way. The few non-bulky cars on the market show that it doesn’t necessarily have to be like that, but bulk must be selling cars, somehow.
All I know is that whenever I get in a car from the ‘70s, or ‘80s, or, hell, even the ‘90s, I’m always momentarily amazed at how lean and elegant things were, and how meaty and balloon-like cars are now.
That lady really should get an old MGA or something. She’d be immeasurably cooler in something like that, and she could see out of it.