Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Suzuki's Purple Cow

There are some recent reports saying Suzuki and Mitsubishi should exit the US automotive market. Not much is really working for either company, but I was surprised to see an ad the other day for the Suzuki SX4 Crossover that caught my attention.

The ad features the old advertising strategy of comparing yourself to a superior product that in turn raises your lesser product's cognitive position. Most of the time this approach doesn't work, like how the Nissan Altima tried to compare itself against the BMW 318i back in the mid-1990s or when Chrysler raced a Lebaron against the BMW 528 in the 1980s. Comparisons usually fall into the who cares category of advertising and do little to make you think a Chysler Lebaron really can compete against a luxury car.

The fun thing with this Suzuki versus the MINI Cooper ad is that yeah it's a little econo-box comparing itself to a much more superior product, the MINI Cooper, but what's interesting is that it's not the typical serious voice over race commercial showing some performance prowess. Instead, the Suzuki comes out with some comical red cape and yellow lightning bolt decal. It's an absurd comparison and Suzuki knows it but the ad makes you pay attention and that is something a Suzuki commercial rarely does, correction - never does.

So for what it's worth this new ad from Suzuki is a fun, interesting way for a forgotten brand with nothing to lose to get some much needed attention. Isn't that what TV spots are supposed to do - get your attention, peak your interest? The Suzuki spot is basically what Seth Godin refers to as a Purple Cow. It's unexpected.

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