This One Is Really About Car Advertising

….and not the Renault Espace. To launch the new Espace, the actor Kevin Spacey is being used in the advertising campaign. And so is the Guggenheim in Bilbao. And a lot of clichés.

2016 Renualt Espace with Kevin Spacey pasted in. I assume that´s the Guggenheim and not just a pastiche.
2016 Renault Espace with Kevin Spacey pasted in. I assume that´s the Guggenheim and not just a pastiche. The shadow is wrong, isn’t it? If the lens flare was real, the shadow should be angled from his feet in the direction 7 or 8 o’clock.

A few things arise from this. I’ll start with the background. It is another one of those sterile and highly unrealistic images where every pixel of the original photography has seemingly been removed, polished and improved so that the final image is utterly divorced from reality. I don’t believe in this picture. I don’t believe an Espace went to Bilbao and I don’t believe Spacey, the car and building were ever in sight of each other.

Where precisely could the advert have been shot?
Where precisely could the advert have been shot?

Only a shiny cardboard standee of Mr. Spacey would have looked less realistic. The narrative of the image is unbelievable too. Did Spacey really drive this car to Bilbao only to park the car at some remove from the museum? Did he drive in that suit? The exact theoretical location of this photo is really hard to determine too. Is this location possible in reality? The advert recalls the ludicrous image of Sean Connery and a Louis Vuitton bag:

Your taxi is waiting, Mr Connery. It´s outside the studio now, idling. The meter is running... You can keep the bag but can we have the tissue paper stuffed inside it, thanks.
Your taxi is waiting, Mr Connery. It’s outside the studio now, idling. The meter is running… You can keep the bag but can we have the tissue paper stuffed inside it, thanks.

….where we are asked to believe Connery was caught whiling away the time waiting for a boat to take him to another tropical island, as if Connery ever does this at his age. As if he would only carry his few items (Gun? Cigarettes? Wallet? Duty free?) in such a foolish handbag. I think the Connery image is the more stupid of the two but only by a whisker.

The Renault ad is visually much less plausible. It’s very grey, isn’t it? But there is some faint lens flair in the bottom right corner so this seems to be about 5.30 in the morning on a hazy Spanish day. What’s Spacey doing up that early? He looks like he’s leaving a restaurant, doesn’t he?

Lastly, I despair of the trend for car ads to feature unvegetated concrete environments devoid of people. For one thing I am convinced it is nudging people to pave their front gardens in the mistaken belief that a plant-free yard is somehow modern and aesthetically pleasing. The net result is to ruin the look of endless tracts of residential areas, aggravate heat island effects and worsen storm run off.  It’s also rubbish for bees who miss the flowers.

Taken as a whole, the ad is a concatenation of clichés and based on shaky assumptions that star endorsements sell vehicles. What is the relationship of Spacey to the Espace? Is it as dumb as the fact the two names sound similar?

That’s all the rhetorical questions I can manage in one day.

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

7 thoughts on “This One Is Really About Car Advertising”

  1. It’s not the Guggenheim in Bilbao, it’s the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. Hence the cartoonish nature of the picture. Makes more sense now, no?

  2. That makes it even stranger. But is a (very good) Anglophile American actor the person whose opinion I would solicit on a European vehicle? Actually, thinking about it more, would I take Mr Spacey any more seriously advertising the new Ford Mustang? Kevin is just too cosmopolitan to come across as a car sort of guy, let alone an MPV sort of guy (is Espace Nouveau still an MPV?).

    Are there more namealike tie-ins we can think of? I’ll offer any Porsche and Portia de Rossi as a lazy starting point.

  3. Thanks for posting the Disney Concert Hall photo, Sam. The way it meets the ground is disappointingly banal. It is a silly building that is nothing but random surfaces. It needs “articulation” at ground level and either product design or classical architecture have time-worn solutions which Gehry either ignored or was unaware of. Gehry´s use of free-from surfacing is naive, like a five year old who has discovered a scissors and spends ages just chopping up bits of paper. He had no idea what to do with the tool. But presumably he lives in a house with man-made objects and has at least seen cars. In both PD and car design free-form surfacing has been in use for decades. He didn´t notice any of that work at all.

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