Thursday, August 19, 2010

The City At Night (aka Long Beach, California)

The product, a BMW X-type SUV, gleams in the reflection of a city at night (after a rainstorm, for added gloss). Which city is not really important for the purposes of the ad. It is also not really evident. Although the background shows a skyline in the shadowy refraction of the metropolitan midnight. None of the half-dozen buildings are particularly memorable, alone or in their assemblage. Photoshopping and doctoring surely have been employed, but perhaps minimally. Its possible that this bland cityscape can be recognized as a real place.

After a bit of searching it revealed to be Long Beach (original free stock photo here). The glowingcranes of the docks in the left of the suggested a littoral port; Long Beach is the largest entrepôt in the US. One tall tower, with twin condominium buildings to the left and the mid-century zebra stripe on the far right.

But this analysis, and its specific result, warps the point of the message. The setting of the advert is supposed to convey a mood, based on a generic location, not any particular municipality. The background is supposed to be, if not exactly anywhere, many of the places that people who shop for luxury SUVs aspire to be in, and perhaps go for a post-percipitation midnight spin.

Or, perhaps its blandness is a desirable attribute? Could an intended reading be that intelligent, successful people escape their dull postmodern surrounds with the comfort of a luxury SUV?

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