American comedienne Rita Rudner once questioned why women wear scents that smell like floral garlands if they want to attract a man. Surely, she reasoned, parfumiers were missing a trick by not marketing a fragrance called 'new car smell'.
I don't care about the fact that I lose three grand every time I drive a new car off the forecourt, nothing beats the feeling of being the one to break in a shiny new toy. It's the same as buying a new build property - what you lose in terms of character and heritage, you gain by enjoying a shower that no-one's ever pissed in. In spite of all the extra expense involved, I want a car that smells of freshly moulded rubber and uncracked leather upholstery, not James May's Scotch egg farts and a past-its-best Feu Orange.
Just like estate agents, divorce lawyers and bald referees, used car salesmen are held in universally low regard. And it's a shame, because there are countless friendly and trustworthy professionals out there who enjoy nothing more than pairing their customers with a low cost runaround. Sadly, it also seems to be a trade which attracts more than its fair share of disreputable shits - men who'd sell their own grandmother with the promise of a complimentary wax and free floor mats.
These are the guys who make buying a second-hand car such an unpleasant, joyless experience. It's like contracting Josef Fritzl to erect your new conservatory. Sure, he probably knows what he's doing when it comes to home renovations, but you don't really want to hear his ideas about extending the basement.
Given their less than progressive world-view, I'm not too surprised to see that one used car dealer in the US has started comparing his pre-owned stock with potential sexual partners. Dale Wurfel knows that when a model looks good enough, you don't really care if someone else might have already splashed their Red Bull all over her dashboard.
Perhaps concerned that a picture of a sexually alluring woman with the line "You know you're not the first. But do you really care?" might seem a little, well, sexist, Wurfel's dealership has also offered up a male alternative. What's a little harder to understand, is why they chose a picture of fashion designer Tom Ford for the new ad. Are they trying to appeal to gay car buyers, or lonely, overweight women who are still clinging onto an impossible dream?
As analogies go, comparing sexual prospect with used cars is an interesting one, and opens up a world of possibilities. When it comes to checking out Exchange & Mart, you want to know there's still some tread on the tyres and plenty of space in the boot. Equally, you might investigate whether the airbags are factory fitted, or have been recently replaced. And what about the odometer? Does it tell the truth, or have the numbers been rolled back by an unscrupulous dealer?
Whether or not you approve of the ads, this is one campaign that could run and run. Personally, I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a picture of Madonna's boy-toy Jesus Luz, alongside that industry legend "One old lady owner."
But in the interests of safety, just bear in mind that you're not the only one getting comfortable in the driver's seat. You're also sharing it with everyone else who sat in it before you.
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