I don't know if you've seen the latest Vauxhall Corsa adverts, but they essentially contain the Corsa, cuddly toys that are alive and a lot of shouting "C'MON!" This tells me that either: the Corsa is aimed at art students who also think the teletubbies are a subliminal mind-bending piece of programming, or aimed at kids who are too young to: a) afford the car and b) can't drive it even if they could afford it.
Despite this, I walked past a shop the other day not selling the Corsa but the cuddly toys themselves. And when I say selling, I mean selling by the hundreds as they flew off the shelves. It appears the advert is far wider reaching than I first thought and re-affirms the power of the medium and how one well crafted idea can yield more sales and interest regardless of whether the product is good or not.
Remember Ben Affleck and his clicker in the Lynx deodorant adverts? On a simple journey through town he clocked up hundreds of admiring glances from women which he recorded on the clicker. At the end of the advert however his score is beaten by a man who isn't a Hollywood A-lister who makes women tremble, but one who wears Lynx deodorant. Cue stacks of men buying Lynx with the promise of their very own clicker to follow in the mail Autel MaxiSys Pro.
Remember ITV Digital? They may be bust now, but upon their launch of digital television as we know it now, they used British comedian Johnny Vegas combined with a woollen monkey ingeniously called ‘Monkey'. This cute fellow has managed to avoid becoming typecast and now advertises the tea - PG Tips. Both companies knew that scores of the population young and old would buy up a digital box or boxes of PG Tips to gets their hands on this must-have toy not available in normal shops. Unfortunately for ITV Digital they ran out of monkeys, hence their bankruptcy. PG Tips have been shrewder in their stock purchasing I trust.
Finally we move to the world of clothing. Not content with using a song that became one of the biggest selling singles ever, ‘Spaceman' by Babylon Zoo, Levi Jeans have also had their time aboard the cuddly toy bandwagon. I can't remember precisely what Flat Eric was but this cuddly critter was created by Jim Henson, the bloke behind The Muppets. Thinking about it, Flat Eric wasn't meant to be a cuddly version of a real-life creature just cute. It worked too, with shops selling Eric and in turn Levi's at a ferocious pace. Suddenly Vauxhall's idea doesn't seem such a bad one.
Beneath all this commercialism, the Corsa isn't a bad car either. In fact it's one of the best in its class. Let's start inside out for a change. The interior belies the type of car you are driving and is without doubt the best Vauxhall have produced in its hatchback range. All shiny metals and pitch black materials are used and replace the cheap plastics found in the predecessor. The rev counter and speedometer dominate the dashboard as they should, with a simple white on black combination. The steering wheel has the controls for the CD player and is adjustable to fit all shapes and sizes of driver.
As with the current Vauxhall line-up the styling of the Corsa doesn't disappoint. There's no doubt the three-door version looks far better from the side than the five-door derivative which somehow looks more elongated than just the extra door. The front and rears are identical on both and it's this styling that will surely entice customers into the showroom. The big headlights sweep up the sides of the car, with the traditional Vauxhall grill divided in two by the front bumper in a similar manner to that of the Volkswagen Golf.
I drove the 1.3 litre diesel version which was economical, returning roughly 47mpg although this is down on what the handbook states ds808. My right foot is as heavy as cement mind. The Corsa was responsive considering the engine size, but crucially for a car that'll be scuttling around potholes in the city, the ride comfort was far better than the VXR and SRi versions of the same car, without losing too much of the sporty handling these versions have in spades.
All in all the new Corsa was a pleasant surprise considering how much Vauxhall seem to hide the car behind their cuddly friends. The hatchback marketplace is more crowded than a sale at Harrods, but if you're considering your hatchback options, you'd be wise to pop into Vauxhall. Cuddly toys not included in the starting price of £7,795.
Mark Creese recalls various marketing campaigns including the recent Corsa cuddly creatures the Corsa can be found at West End Vauxhall