The Perils Of Brand Invisibility

I think I have discovered a new Marketing phenomenon. As all great discoveries seem to happen it came about purely by chance.

When my father passed away I inherited his Toyota Avensis.  It looks just like the one pictured here. They say every cloud has a Silver Avensis don’t they!

I have been using the ‘Les Mobile’ as it is affectionately known for a while,  frequently driving along the A52 in Nottingham to get to the train station and I have noticed a very consistent thing. I seem to be regarded as invisible to other road users!

Our other car is a 2 litre VW tdi and I often drive the same route in that too but other drivers behave completely differently when I’m driving that. Typical behaviours when I’m in the Toyota include, seriously close tailgating, undertaking and cutting up braking distance and verbal abuse such as ‘out of the way old man!’ combined with the regulation gesticulations.

So as a student of Marketing Management I thought ‘what’s going on here?’ and it seems to me that it is a manifestation of the very deep motivations and values that car brands tap into. As Volvo allude to in their recent advert,  cars are symbols or ciphers of ourselves, they signify who we are and what we stand for.

Cars  proclaim to universe our sense of self esteem and our relative status in the social traffic jam. Drive an old Toyota and you are instantly stereotyped. As Bob Cialdini says  – click – whirr! Avensis – click – Mr middle aged, grey anonymous nobody who is in my way! – whirr.

I wonder if there are stats that correlate Brand Invisibility to car accidents and anti-social car driving behaviour? Maybe the military should re-think their investment in cloaking technologies and simply kit out the army with a silver Toyota Avensis, just think of the money they’ll save!

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