If nothing else, the next few years are shaping up to be a full-scale shootout between competing crossover and SUV offerings. For the better part of a decade, the crossover SUV segment has become increasingly more oversaturated, and, more recently, automakers have been ditching sedans to focus their efforts on creating even more competitive options in an attempt to chip away at market share. Now there are countless prospective car buyers out there pointlessly weighing the pros and cons of the 2020 GMC Terrain vs 2020 Toyota RAV4 vs every other offering out there in some impotent attempt to find one that might somehow be better than the others. Even more impactful? The ugly realization that a lot of those crossovers and SUVs are never getting sold.
It doesn’t matter what kind of business you’re in; slow-moving inventory can have an incredibly damaging effect on both your bottom-line and the long-term viability of your business. From manufacturers to retailers, there are all sorts of drastic steps taken to jumpstart consumer interest in less-popular items in the hopes of turning a liability into an asset.
But what sort of marketing play would help automakers (and franchised dealers alike) to sell vehicles that nobody seems to want? According to 37-year old Josh Murray, the answer is “guilt.”
While you may not recognize him by name, you know Josh Murray’s work. More specifically, you’re familiar with his use of someone else’s work in order to achieve the desired result. Highly-sought after in the advertising and marketing communities, Murray is the mind behind the ASPCA commercials, which feature celebrated 90’s singer/songwriter, Sarah McLachlan. You know the ones….
And for those of you who love to punish yourselves…
If you actually watched those clips, the chances are that you’re ready to either kill yourself or rescue an abused pupper. Well played, McLachlan. Well played. Since its debut well over a decade ago, the campaign has proven to be even more effective at blindsiding people with a sense of guilt than a Jewish mother who desperately wants grandchildren. And now, Josh Murray plans to harness that same power to persuade people to buy slow-moving crossover inventory. The only question that remains is which automaker will actually put his concept to use.
“Everybody loves a revival these days,” explains Murray. “Coming up in the next few months, people will be rushing to their TVs and theaters for resurrected versions of Ghostbusters, Punky Brewster, and even Lizzie McGuire. That’s a lot of childhood happiness if you ask me. I feel like we have a responsibility to younger Gen-Xers and Millennials to offset that happiness with some tangible adolescent melancholy and young adult malaise. And what better way to do that than to trigger them, with the traumatic sense of memory that comes with Sarah McLachlan and her hit song “In the Arms of the Angels”? That song and slow-motion panning shots of snow-covered RAV4s now offered at reduced pricing, and I’d have near-suicidal people snatching them up in no time.”
Except Josh Murray probably won’t be employing this tactic to move RAV4 inventory. According to Murray, he came up with the idea while working for Toyota, but was released from employment before he could finalize his proposal. “I guess they didn’t like the fact that I kept playing Sarah McLachlan in the office,” he explained.
“We didn’t,” confirms Rachel Macavoy, VP of Marketing for Toyota. “We have a great health plan, but it doesn’t cover suicide. Plus, people kept requesting time off to go adopt dogs, and we have a business to run here.”
Time will tell if another automaker snatches up Josh Murray, his proven talents, and his unique strategy to prompt crossover SUV sales. But one thing’s for sure, Sarah McLachlan might just be the most powerful form of weaponized mind control ever designed.