Suspect and Friend, Simultaneously
What kind of person looks at a normal, every day occurrence such as an armored car being unloaded and thinks to himself that he would like to rob it? The answer: a criminal. Criminals obviously do not have their own marketing demographic, so why, then, would Audi think that this ad would sell cars? The reason is that hyperbole provides an avenue for denial (and the accompanying desired emotional change).
The fact of the matter is that in today’s mixed, semi-free, semi-regulated economy, virtually everyone is both a victim and a perpetrator of theft. A man is a victim in the sense that other’s exploit government intervention into the market in order to benefit at his expense, and he’s a perpetrator in that he exploits other forms of the same thing in order to benefit at theirs. Audi customers, because they are generally more wealthy than – and therefore generally more intelligent and conscientious than – other demographics, are probably more (subconsciously) aware of this. They tend to grasp the connection between wealth creation and moral virtue more clearly (less foggily?), and so they are more bothered by today’s precarious, effectively unproductive state of affairs than others would be. The result is that they feel a greater sense of unease about it, as well as a greater sense of guilt about participating in it.
Audi knows this, and so it created an ad that speaks to it. This commercial exists precisely to alleviate that guilt – if only for a few moments. What this commercial tells the consumer is the following: “No, you are not a perpetrator of theft who is effectively no better than a common bank robber. If you were, you would desire to rob banks just as a bank robber does. But because you don’t rob banks, you do not share the mindset of those who do” – and then it expects him to blank out the fact that how one steals is irrelevant to the question of whether or not one is a thief. Simply because most “respectable people” do so legally – by exploiting government intervention into the market (that usually exists under some altruist or collectivist pretense) – it doesn’t change the fact that some portion of his income and lifestyle (and automobile) doesn’t belong to him. That he has taken it by force, just the same as if he had robbed an armored car on the street. Again, that is what this commercial allows the customer to continue to not have to bring into focus. It allows him to continue to avoid discovering the source of his feelings of unease and guilt by making them disappear for a time – by setting up, and then destroying, a hyperbolic straw man.
The next step after this is (hopefully) a sense of gratitude towards Audi for producing a commercial that gave it to him that reprieve (or, at least, an association with Audi whenever he remembers that private, emotional change). This is how business is conducted in America today. The objective merits of the product or service being advertised take a back seat to the experience the advertisement provides the consumer. And not only that but the experience it provides him – the emotions it inculcates or aids in perpetuating – are some of the worst, most destructive, and (from a long-term wealth creation perspective) self-defeating there are. Audi must do this because it is a highly-regulated, highly-taxed “big corporation” – and so just like it’s individual customers, in order to compensate for being part victim, it chooses to become part perpetrator.