Remember how cool all your high school teachers were? No? Well that’s weird, because Stellantis thinks it does. Try again: envisage your Geography professor’s beige, loose-fit department store trousers and your maths teacher’s wild beard. Remember how their words sparked your lust for life and learning; reckless attitudes forever treading the far edge of the line between order and anarchy?
No, of course you don’t. High school teachers usually come across as intelligent, decent people but with all the inspirational powers of a multi-coloured banner whose shiny letters read: “you’re amazing!!!!!”. It’s not their fault; their hands are tied by the job. They can hardly tell you to strap in for the most boring hour you’re ever likely to experience, or say it’s fine for you to have a kickabout in the corridor during double chemistry while the teachers pull out their deck chairs and have a smoke.
But marketers… marketers are different. They have the power and the freedom to pull on all your heartstrings and make you want a product even more than you wanted to take that blue-eyed supernova in class 10C to the end-of-year party. They can say things that are a bit naughty, a bit antisocial and that might make people in cardigans write ‘concerned’ letters to politicians. Marketing, especially for cars, should be full of joy with a strong side-order of naughtiness; it’s got to sell us an idea exciting enough to ignite our passion.
So what in the name of Zeus’ summer wardrobe is Stellantis thinking with its new menu of hilarious and/or calamitous ‘green’ slogans for its brands? The full set were revealed as part of the company’s ‘EV Day’ this week, and they make for interesting reading. Abarth gets this: “Heating Up People, But Not The Planet”. It’s the sort of jaw-droppingly dreadful thing your least-favourite uncle would come out with over an extended family dinner, before turning to you with a weirdly self-satisfied smile and a dessert-curdling wink.
Citroen’s is little better. “Citroen Electric: Well-Being For All!” Sorry folks, we seem to have suddenly arrived at the terrifying ‘utopia’ from Demolition Man, where swearing is a punishable offence, physical contact is outlawed and we all wish each other to “be well” from our shared, pleasantly anonymous road conveyances. And Dodge! Dodge, a perennial CT favourite for its wanton disregard for sensible engine design and ignorance of anything that isn’t strictly to do with having lots of questionably sociable fun, unless it’s a cheeky bypass system to indulge - barely - its legal obligations. Dodge’s one-line manifesto now reads: “Tear Up The Streets… Not The Planet.”
It gets worse. Dodge “will not sell electric cars. It will sell American eMuscle.” So… electric cars, then. It’s just so laugh-out-loud, curl-up-and-cry transparent. Dodge seems so ashamed of what it’s being asked to do that it can’t even admit the basic facts itself. We’re reminded of how Ferrari said it would never build an SUV and still to this day refuses to label the large, high-riding, patently SUV-shaped Purosangue as such. The mind boggles.
Other highlights include Lancia’s “The Most Elegant Way To Protect The Planet.” The last time Lancia made an elegant car I think I was in nappies. And I’m fairly sure you’ll find building lots of new, technologically complicated cars fundamentally isn’t very good for the planet. But at least they tried. Opel and Vauxhall have been lumped with “Green is the New Cool,” which groans loudly beneath the planetoidal mass of its own uncoolness. Never, ever, ever, ever attempt to state that something of your own is cool. By stating it, you automatically, instantly make it untrue. They’ve had an absolute shocker.
Things become plain bizarre with DS Automobiles’ “The Art Of Travel, Magnified.” I sort of get the first part. The Art Of Travel on its own has a certain simple and (take note, Lancia) elegant Gallic arrogance I can appreciate. But what’s magnified? The art? The travel? Are the cars just going to be very very big? It doesn’t make any sense. Is anyone else banging their heads on their desks yet? Try “Alfa e-Romeo” [writer screams internally], or “Zero Emission Freedom” for Jeep. Aside from the fact it should have a hyphen between Zero and Emission, or else it kinda means ‘zero freedom from emission’, it’s a load of bull because the charging network will never deliver the kind of ‘freedom’ that an ICE Wrangler with a bay full of Jerry cans can. What a mess.
Don’t think we’re anti-EV. We know the emissions score and we actually quite enjoy the silky hush of a battery-burner for daily duties. We get that it’s happening and we’re OK with the mainstream shift in that direction, but what the hell happened to marketing that simply made you want to buy the damned car instead of making you want to throw up into the nearest non-porous object?
The list in full:
- Abarth – “Heating Up People, But Not the Planet”
● Alfa Romeo – “From 2024, Alfa Becomes Alfa e-Romeo”
● Chrysler – “Clean Technology for a New Generation of Families”
● Citroën – “Citroën Electric: Well-Being for All!”
● Dodge – “Tear Up the Streets… Not the Planet”
● DS Automobiles – “The Art of Travel, Magnified”
● Fiat – “It’s Only Green When It’s Green for All”
● Jeep® – “Zero Emission Freedom”
● Lancia – “The Most Elegant Way to Protect the Planet”
● Maserati – “The Best in Performance Luxury, Electrified”
● Opel/Vauxhall – “Green is the New Cool”
● Peugeot – “Turning Sustainable Mobility into Quality Time”
● Ram – “Built to Serve a Sustainable Planet”
● Commercial Vehicles – “The Global Leader in e-Commercial Vehicles”
There are – or should be – some effortlessly cool brands in the Stellantis shed. Maserati; Jeep; Ram; Alfa Romeo. All have now been compromised by slogans that at best post a worrying score on the lame-o-meter and that at worst actively make the brands look silly. This frankly embarrassing collection of marketing misfires risks the reputation of once-priceless marques over the next 10 years – or until they dump this whole mess into the bin where it belongs. Stellantis desperately needs to stop talking like a 55-year-old teacher trying to ‘hang with the kids’ and find some proper passion for its own products, fast. If they can’t, why on earth should we?