Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Somebody's in trouble, now -- Mercedes goes to all that trouble trying to convince the world that its new minivan is not a minivan (primarily by omitting the minivan's best feature: sliding rear doors) and what do we get on the doorstep of casa de downshift? The latest Pottery Barn Kids catalog, with a promotion to win a new Mercedes R-class minivan sports-tourer. Fortunately for our loyal readers without toddlers, the same promotion is featured on the PB Kids (as we in the diaper-set refer to it) web site.

Funny, we just don't think many "socialite empty-nester, late-forming affluent families" get the PB Kids catalog. We'd venture that better than 80% of PB Kids catalog get delivered to whenever-forming, kid-hauling, play-date-arranging, too-busy-to-be-bothered-by-perception families. In other words, the heart of the minivan demographic.

Really, the promotion is just a symptom of a larger problem. Why does Mercedes (and everyone else trying to fit the virtues of a minivan into a non-minivan shape) accept the received wisdom that a minivan can't be cool? Instead of trying to weasel around the perception -- "No, really, it's not a minivan" -- they could have confronted the prejudice head on -- "We're going to change the way you think about minivans" -- and given the damn thing some sliding doors.