The automotive grammarian

Electric cars and conjugations do not immediately spring to mind as crowd pleasers – a fact that Saatchi & Saatchi USA were probably conscious of when they decided to produce an advert with a musical uplift, a tune that remains persistantly unforgetable, like a fly stuck inside at night. This comparison moreover seems both ironic and poignant given that Toyota aimed to create online buzz. The advert drove viewers to the brand’s Facebook page where they can ponder the grammatical “plural of the Prius“, much like they enjoy calculating a collection of cactus (cacti) or working out which bird waddles in a gaggle (answer = geese). However, arguably this audience remains a singular one – a demographic positioned between the pub quiz enthuisast and the smug academic; and unfortunately it is this latter self-assurance that has me racing towards the traditional gas-guzzler.

However, do not confuse this critique as a dislike for electric vehicles per se (my geography background is enough to make me green-tinged for life), but I find this advert’s family-focused and soft approach slightly nauseating. Too much sugar on an empty stomach, the advert leaves you with a unfilled sense of expectation and a confused low (my first thoughts on watching were “What just happened…”). On top of this, the child in you (as ultimately this is how the advert makes you feel) waits tensely to be discovered – empty sweet wrapper in hand and bottom of last week’s spelling test. This has the ultimate effect of enforcing both motherly and school-tutor qualities in the car – charming cartoon and nursery rhyme this might make, but “lean, mean driving machine” this is not.


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