The Way Car Campaigns SHOULD Be

School started last week, and my oldest transitioned to a new high school as a junior. Because we did months of research ahead of time, though, and because this was a transition she requested, it went perfectly.

FYI, by “transitioned,” I mean “didn’t transition at all,” and by “perfectly,” I mean “horribly” and “terribly” and “we’ve scrapped that plan and are trying something else entirely.” 

So… you know. It’s been a rough couple of weeks, trying to figure out how to listen and be supportive and make wise decisions and guide without dominating. For the record, I am NOT good at guiding without dominating. I’m more of an I WILL DOMINATE THE HECK OUT OF THIS and FIX IT and IF EVERYONE JUST DOES WHAT I SAY, WE WILL ALL BE FINE mama, before I remember that I want to be a collaborative and compassionate mama, which kind of blows that whole domination thing to pieces. In short, it sucks. 

photo 1 (69)Before school started, though, we went on a road trip. Abby, me, and her friends, Jenna and Camille. We went for two reasons:

1. We seriously needed a distraction from the back-to-school blues, because sitting home STRESSING OUT about starting a new school wasn’t going to be good for anyone. Not ANYONE.

And 2. GMC loaned us a a car

We had a ridiculously great time, probably because no one brought any siblings, not even one of us barfed, and we were all equally committed to finding every single Starbucks in the Puget Sound of Washington. It was, in all ways, an ideal road trip and perfectly timed.

Now, listen. I don’t know what GMC was thinking, loaning me a car, and clearly they didn’t check with any of YOU before they did it because we are a WHOLE BUNCH of truth tellers around here, and I imagine, because you know me, you would’ve told them NO; DON’T DO IT, GMC! But they didn’t get ahold of you (WOOHOO!), and God knows I wasn’t going to fill them in on All the Things That Can Go Wrong With the Woolseys, so when they said, “Hey. Want to use a car? No writing or online review required!” I thought to myself, “Self? This is a chance to use a car that doesn’t smell like dead cheese. SAY YES.” So that’s what I did, and now here we are.

And can I be honest here? I just hate car campaigns. Because all of them show blissful country drives with smiling, quiet families gazing peacefully at idyllic scenery, and none of them show the kid who insists on putting his boogery finger over the line to piss off his brother, or the teenager slumping and sighing and eye-rolling at the nerve of you taking him on a family vacation, or the baby who gets dreadfully, terribly carsick at the first bend.

So, while driving the GMC Acadia was honestly rad – easy to drive, perfect control, great features, gorgeous interior, really comfortable, lots of room, blah, blah, blah – and I would buy one in a heartbeat if we could manage a new car payment (which, HAHAHA), I wish we could start a whole new way of advertising cars, ’cause let’s talk for a minute about what we really need. 

Show me how easy it is to wipe vomit off your seats, and I am sold.

Show me a car with a feature that repels dead cheese smell, and I’ll swoon.

Show me a car that comes equipped with a mini-upholstery vacuum/shampooer for spot cleaning the chocolate milk spills and squashed goldfish crackers and random body fluids, and I’m in. 

Here’s what you need to do, GMC: show a commercial of a family on a road trip.

You know, a REAL one.

Real family. Real road trip.

The infant with explosive diarrhea up his back.

The dad catching the toddler’s puke in his bare hands.

The teenager demonstrating with every expression and minute movement how annoying it is that she’s required to be in the presence of such disgusting excuses for human beings.

The mama with a mouth guard because she has to bite something really, really hard.

At least two kids competing in a sing- scream-along to Frozen’s Let It Go.

And then show the mama driving: 1. using the Blind Spot Assist feature to change lanes, 2. using the GPS Direction Navigation to find the nearest stop because OH MY GOSH, VOMIT SMELL, 3. using the (seriously – you should make these features, GMC) Mini-Upholstery Cleaner and Dead Cheese Odor Eliminator at the rest area.

Then show the mama using the Reverse Camera to back up and get back on the road safely in the midst of all the distractions … and unapologetically starting the DVD player with wireless headphones for all the passengers to get ’em all zoned out post-puke-pocalypse. 

And tag your campaign with this slogan: At Least the Car Was Easy.

At least the car was easy! Because every family who’s driven more than a block knows the family part won’t be easy, what with being made of humans and all. But we drive cars anyway, both for convenience and for vacation. We know it’s going to be hard, but it’s also FUN and deeply, horribly worthwhile because we’re making memories, damn it.

Ooh, ooh! There’s another car campaign for you! Making Memories, Damn It. 

Someone should pay me for this stuff. This is marketing GOLD, I just know it. 

Listen up, folks. This is your chance to talk to a major car manufacturer. And I know this isn’t what GMC intended when they loaned me a car. They intended to have me sell you on the Acadia. (It’s really great. Swearsies.) But I’m very bad at following even implied directions, and I think this is too good a chance to pass up. We have GMC’s ear. What do you want in a car? Like, for real

Comment Below with Your Favorite Feature, please:

  1. Mini-Upholstery Cleaner. (Let’s pretend we would clean our cars if we had these!)
  2. Dead Cheese Odor Eliminator.
  3. Or another idea of your own.



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34 responses to “The Way Car Campaigns SHOULD Be”

  1. I always thought at van with three rows of bucket seats, so it seats 8 , center isle for easy access and every one has their OWN space , with maybe a drop down table like in a plane…oh and I live the idea of a whine gaurd window! I think there is a new VW that doesn’t have carpet so you can hose down the smelly nasty stuff !

  2. I swear there is actually a car on the market now that has an in car vacuum system. One of my friends mentioned it a few months back. Either that or I’m delusional. Take your pick!

  3. We bought a used 15-passenger van this spring, and went on our first family road trip since having kid #6 (who is now a year old) in August. For managing the family, the single best feature of our new vehicle was that each person had their own, separate *bench* all to themselves. Space = happy family trip!

    It was a camping trip, so we had 3 tents, 7 sleeping bags, a pack-n-play, clothing for 8 for 8 days, rain gear for all, iron pans to cook with, and coolers of frozen food. This meant that while the kids could all be kept apart from one another, that most of the remaining seats had luggage tucked in, around and under them (less at the end, as we put our dirty laundry into our empty coolers).

    That was okay, but we would have preferred LOTS of cargo nets and lots of cargo net anchors, because the stuff shifted as it was, and would have flown in an accident. Have it be like a choose-your-own-adventure style set-up, where you can net up anything in any way. Have a bench with 3 seatbelts in it and lots of anchors and nets? Put the *stuff* into the center seat, and a kid on each side. Instant Family Harmony!

    I love the idea of a built-in vacuum & wet-vac, too. That would have been sooooooooo handy…

  4. NASCAR has those pull away windshield covers. So when they pull into pit they don’t clean the windows they just pull the to layer off and viola a clean windshield. That’s what I want for floor mats. Like big post it pads so when there are spills or dirt, I can just pull it up. Paper won’t work unless it’s absorbent. Cuz who has time to vacuum the car floor? The car should have a central cab system I you can plug a short hose in and vacuum your kid enforce they get out and in because gold fish crumbs are everywhere. Then here has to be a connect in the back so that you can vacuum everyone after time at the beach. All of the dirt dumps into a container under the car that can be dumped by hitting one button whenever you think you are somewhere when dumping is appropriate. I second some window between the front and back…. A whining shield!

  5. Beth I’m pretty sure you just designed their next marketing campaign for them. Seriously!

    I think your readers just helped you design their next family vehicle, too.

    Here are things I’ve dreamed about for our car:

    High powered vacuum system that only requires a push of the button and everything is instantly sucked off the floor and deposited into a clear container that is easy to access so you can find the earring you lost six months ago. Also allows you to retrieve the baby’s missing sock, that critical Lego piece, the younger child’s favorite action figure that the older child grabbed and threw into the back, and all the change that falls out of my husbands pocket, without having to dig under the seats and putting your hand into a rotting apple because you can’t see what your hand is reaching for.

    Soundproof shield between the front and rear seats.

    No touch barriers between children.

    Full coverage floor mats that can be removed and hosed off.

    Cup holders with removable liners so you can actually wash them.

    I’m sure I can come up with more.

    • Diaper changing station…maybe something similar to a pop-up ironing board that one might have in their utility room (but in the trunk) or something like a drop-down tray on an airplane. Love the idea of an attached vac.

  6. Can that roomba/spot-cleaner thing work on ceiling stains too, please? I can’t be the only one with mystery splatter adorning the fabric overhead?

  7. Auto dispensing puke bags, for when the kids throw up after scarfing snacks or reading/watching. We have to travel a good 7 hours of driving time once or twice a year and neither kid can read or view a screen in the car :/. So we listen a lot, and I’d love a divider that’s a soundproof barrier between front and back so we don’t listen to 10 hours of Wiggles and Thomas the Tank Engine, and they don’t get bored 30 seconds into the latest Dr. Karl podcast. And a rubbish bin, but I’d accept the previous features if a rubbish bin proves to be too great a task.

  8. I would like a car with a fountain diet coke dispenser in it. that would be rad. and I think your tag line, “at least the car was easy” is golden. they should pay you for that.

  9. I would love a car that had comfy spots for tired children to lay their heads. I think 90 percent of crankiness with my kids is that they get tired but there’s no where comfy to lay their heads, so they cranky at me until they’re so tired they don’t care where their heads are anymore.

  10. I need each seat to be encased in its own sound proof fiberglass or something. Whatever it takes to shut out each child’s yelling at the other children, plus keep them from bashing each other on the head. And each one could have a self-cleaning feature like those toilets in Japan or wherever. And the kid could stay in there during the cleaning cycle so no need for a bath!

  11. The in-car vacuum, yes! And a trash can area in the back (where the trash makers sit, not where the driver and other adult trying to do all things without running off the road sit).
    Oh, and I just read the other ideas. I second the mold-proof, full-cover mats. Plus sign me up NOW for the bookholder. What about a white noise kind of machine? One that would allow you to still hear traffic but could muffle all the sounds in the backseat….
    I like the “At least the car was easy” idea. A lot. They should use it.

  12. The upholstery vacuum cleaner needs to be like a mini-Roomba that turns on automatically whenever the car is on and travels all throughout the car (except under the driver’s seat pedals) looking for Cheerios. And it needs to have a shampoo/wet vac option for the juice/coffee/whatever spills. Basically, I want a self-cleaning car interior.

  13. Seriously! Trash receptacles, places for books that car seat kids can reach, and the vacuum/spot cleaner would be amazing!!! Hooks or a place to stash headphones and wipes would also be golden. I love, love, love your ad idea Beth!!

  14. Space for a trash container definitely. Also a mini fridge, especially here in Georgia where it’s still up in the 90’s and you really can’t go anywhere without a cold drink or risk serious dehydration.

  15. Seat separators that go up and down like windows so we can enforce the “do not touch your sister” and “stop tormenting your brother” rules. With a push button on the steering wheel.

    But if I have to choose just one, I vote for the factory-installed vacuum system.

    • The seat separators could house an activity section that you could put books, coloring, snacks etc in and could pop up from the middle seat in the back. Not only are the kids out of eyesight but they are also distracted by some sort of personal entertainment.

  16. The things I want in a car.

    1. Spot cleaner – yes please!
    2. Trash receptacle. Why is this one so hard? Just a little place you can stick a bag to put trash
    3. Placement of Latch car seat things so that an adult can actually sit between two car seats. Some cars are plenty wide but the latches are so close together you can’t sit there! We have three adults and two kids, so this one is big for me!
    4. Doors that open even when you’re close to another car, like the new Tesla SUV. My garage is small and I am constantly worried the toddler is going to throw the door open and slam it into my husband’s car.

  17. LOVE the slogan, “At least the car was easy!” I need a huge console that I can stash the toys, books, half-eaten food, backpack, headphones, etc. that there’s “just no room” for in the backseat and end at my feet on the passenger side on road trips. Maybe it could be a shoot that I put the item in from the front seat and it rolls back into the backseat so it winds up at the kids feet instead of mine. After all, their feet don’t reach the floor so there’s more room there!

  18. The last pickup my husband bought he wanted because he “could open the doors and use a hose to clean it out”. No carpet wanted for food to get smashed on, crayons to melt into, silly putty to stick to – easy clean wanted here all the way.

  19. I have thought about this often because we regularly drive to visit family in another town (only 30 minutes, but when you have a child/children who spend most of that time screaming or fighting or throwing shoes, it seems like so much longer).

    I want a divider like limos have. I want to be able to close it and ignore the insane pinching/spitting/shrieking that is happening in the backseat.

    Please, Sweet Baby Jesus, let someone make one of those.

    • I would “like” this a thousand times if I could. I’ve been saying this for years. Maybe I should just start searching for a used limo.

  20. Well, I would buy the car with that tag line. “At least the car was easy” is golden.

    I would want to know the distance between siblings. As in, now with a 3-foot distance between brothers. Happy days, folks, happy days.

    And a self-cleaning trunk.

  21. Anti-mold protection on the floors, for when you realize in the middle of August that the smell in the back is from the peanut butter toast your toddler had for breakfast in July that has been breeding its own version of grossness since it fell on the floor and got lost amid all the toys, socks, shoes and papers and purposely spilled apple juice that gathered there in the past month. Or maybe that’s only in my car…

    • Yes to this, and/or floor mats that cover the entire floor the way good bibs cover entire children. So that the latte that toppled over in January–which conveniently stayed frozen until March–won’t have FOUR MONTHS to stay soaked into the floor like a petrie dish until one RANK warm spring day.

      Seriously, though, someone needs to make a book holder for the back seat that toddlers in five-point-harness-test-pilot car seats can access. Like the magazine rack for your bathroom, but that won’t become projectile. I can’t be the only one with a gazillion books sliding around the floor of my car, mixing with mud and apple juice and goodness-knows-what-else, and utterly irretrievable by both me and the pipsqueak.

  22. There needs to be a trash chute that incinerates your car trash. In fact, it could help power the car, like Mr Fusion! And then my husband would stop being such a crank about kids eating in his car, because they’re HELPING, honey! All those junk food wrappers just increased our MPG! (He doesn’t care if they eat in my car, which is why mine is the one that needs dead cheese eliminator. And a stocked snack bar.)

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