WTF: Gifting cars

This is an advert that makes me more than a bit mad. Copy reads – “Marriage does come with its rewards. The New Beetle. Best Gifted.”

Of course one could interpret it as – “Reward your spouse by gifting them a car”. But that’s really not what this is about, is it? Even if the advert didn’t intend it, it makes these subtle nauseating suggestions. Because we all know the rules of gifting at weddings. We know who’s supposed to “give a gift” and where it fits within the spins of traditions.

The PR for the campaign says

Volkswagen conducted research, in which it found out that the increasing purchasing power of the young individuals spend money on purchasing expensive gifts, especially for marriages. So the company tend to target the affluent Indian buyers. Raja also added that, these days everyone tend to spend a lot of money on marriages, the gift will anyway fit the criteria. As the young Indians are brand conscious, trend setters and active social life. The wedding season in India will continue for the coming three months and the company wishes to flash the ad till January.

But maybe it’s just me reading into these things. That’s how I am – easily offended.

11 Comments

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11 Responses to WTF: Gifting cars

  1. Neha, I don’t understand where you’re coming from. If you’re saying that ‘gift’ is a euphemism for ‘dowry’, I must say it sounds a bit like you’re looking for an offensive angle. It is rather common in the very affluent parts of society to gift cars. An ex-colleague received a Honda Civic (a Big Deal in India’s auto economy) for his birthday. From his parents. Can’t say there’s a hidden agenda there. And yes, parents gifting vehicles at weddings is quite common, even if you take the obvious dowry angles out of the picture.

  2. Come to think of it, they have done good research, whether we are mad or not. Brand conscious in laws can now hint at the ad to make their point and their intention of what gift they want.
    Your thinking is pointing right north girl. It is just as well correct to be offended about the obvious truth.

  3. Sumant – I’ve seen enough weddings of late where dowry is disguised as ‘gifts’. How many times have you seen the groom’s side gift a car? While there are some gifts that both sides trade, the bigger, very expensive ones often come from the girl’s side. In the North especially, you’ll often hear ‘In our families, we always give the out-going girl a car, it’s part of our traditions’. If the parents give something out of their own goodwill, it’s completely alright, but quite often, parents have to take loans, break various kinds of gratuity schemes to get their daughters married off.

    Perhaps offended is not the right word – am more disturbed by this. Because I find people younger than I am regressing into a mode that women in the 80s fought hard against.

    Leya – That’s the awful part of it. I work in Market Research, and am aware that what I find sometimes is often not palatable/ acceptable to my sensibilities. It’s not really the advert that offends, but the thickness of tradition that disturbs. :(

  4. Uggh! :( In northern Bihar and Southern Nepal, grooms have a ‘price’.. A school teacher is Approx $10K, an Engineer $25K, and a doctor 4oK and so on… So, the VW is targeted at brides who want a doctor for a hubby, huh?

    Really, it’s soooo sad… And I don’t blame you.. I see the darned thing in the ad too… Oh and about ‘gifts’ and ‘dowry’, its pretty simple ‘gifts’===’dowry'; it’s a ‘gift’ if its well within your means, and ‘dowry’ if you can just make it, or have to take loans for the ‘gift’
    ….

  5. km

    So the company tend to target the affluent Indian buyers.

    Who wrote that godawful copy?

    //Cries of “grammar Nazi” would be so appropriate here, considering the car in question.

  6. Advert aside, I often wonder why many grooms don’t take a firm stand on this….I know some guys who had no qualms in telling they were bought for *specify dowry amount*. They all had foren degrees that added to their market value.

    No wonder they give car makers good business.

  7. 100% right. I had the same reaction when I saw the ad. Maybe I felt worse ‘cos I covet this car (and no other) and I’m female and married. Pshaw.

  8. It is so obvious and I can’t believe they even dare to do things like this. This is really disappointing that such a huge firm does that… :(

    ON a different note (some wordplay): In Germany, from where VW comes, Dowry is called “MitGIFT” – … (it’s just the word gift… (actually, the word gift means poison though))

  9. Harish

    The company is merely exploiting the prevalent social norms and customs (I am in no way endorsing these), so there is no point in breathing fire at VW or the ad. VW is not doing anything more obnoxious than making people feel fat, or getting kids hooked to soft drinks. Of course it is sad. However I doubt that the ad is targeted at people who have to borrow money to buy the car for potential grooms. The Beetle is positioned clearly as an upmarket, expensive car (in India) and I think it is unlikely that anyone below the upper class will be interested in gifting (or receiving it), so the point made by someone about VW ‘exploiting’ hapless consumers might not be true. And yes, there are definitely cases also where the husband buys the wife a car (I know at least a couple of my friends did so). But then, the background of the ad copy seems to suggest a gift on the occasion of the wedding. Overall, however I have to agree with the last line of your post. You do seem to get ‘easily offended’. I personally find this ad undesirable but a lot less obnoxious and unethical than so many others aired on Indian TV.

  10. I wish someone would gift me a Nasa Space Shuttle. :)

  11. So the company tend to target the affluent Indian buyers. Who wrote that godawful copy? //Cries of “grammar Nazi” would be so appropriate here, considering the car in question.