Quote: “Volkswagen Passat, lowest ego emissions of any German made sedan.” TV commercial.
Figure of Speech: code grooming, the language of the tribe.
VW’s new ad campaign makes fun of car companies that play on consumers’ insecurities. It shows non-VW drivers shouting through megaphones: “Because daddy never hugged me!” “Because I make more money than you!” “Because I am compensating for my shortcomings!”
What is VW doing with this ad? It’s appealing to a market segment called “low self-monitors,” the sort of people who hate to show off. Of course, low self-monitors want other people to know they’re not showing off. Which, when you think about it, is showing off.
So the TV commercial actually does what it ridicules. It welcomes us to that superior tribe of well-adjusted souls who don’t seek approval through their choice of car. Figaro calls this technique “code grooming” — language that pulls a tribe together. (For more on code grooming, click here.)
In short, by advertising low “ego emissions,” VW emits a big hot blast of it.
Snappy Answer: “I can still smell the ego.”