Sweeten the Deal


Buying your first car is a dreaded experience for (most) women, primarily due to the aggressive (dare I say sleazy) nature of the salesman you are sure to be assigned to.  You know the stereotype—someone who talks fast, calls you “kid”, or worse, “little lady”, and has a cigar permanently hanging out the side of his mouth.  Perhaps this man doesn’t exist in reality, or at least after 1950, but the worry that you will be bullied into purchasing a lemon by someone who has no real concern for your needs as a person (let alone as a woman) is there nonetheless.

A couple days ago my sister moved back down to Atlanta to start a new job, and had to buy her first car.  Surprisingly (to me, the cynical New Yorker), she had a lovely experience.  Instead of rushing her through the process, her salesman, Mike, took time to chat with her about Georgia football (her alma mater) and discussed options with her as the intelligent person she is (not talking down to the “little lady” in my scenarios).  She left the dealership that day the proud, knowledgeable owner of a Toyota Prius.

Even more shocking, two days later and 20 minutes into her first day at work she received a phone call from none other than Mike.  “Hey Melanie—how’s your first day going so far??  I know it can be really stressful!” the jovial salesman boomed into the phone.  Totally bamboozled, Melanie thanked her new friend for checking in (quietly) and hurried him off the phone, all the while wondering if she had even mentioned her new job, let alone her start date, when she had purchased the car two days prior. 

While calling an entry-level employee moments after orientation may not have shown the most tact…it was definitely a surprising, and appreciated, gesture.  At a time when buyer’s remorse is rampant—a conscientious salesperson goes a long way towards sweetening the deal.

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Minivans – Denial and Acceptance

When I surrendered 2 years ago and bought a minivan I felt like a complete sell-out.  I felt defeated and completely lame. There were tears shed at the dealership (don’t get me started on the fight I had with the sales guy who only called my husband by name) and I refused to learn how to put in the third row of seats or use the remote controlled doors.  The first time I drove it I insisted on wearing stilettos just to show that *#!%  Honda Odyssey who’s boss. 

To console ourselves, my husband and I decided we were going to rebrand the minivan and call it a MUV – a multi-use vehicle.  We threw the term around for a while but it didn’t stick.  Fast forward 2 years and I’m driving the minivan and I’ll admit I don’t entirely hate it.  What I still hate is how the minivan is marketed – as a compromise, as something for people with no style, as a generic mass market baby mover driven by mommies.

So VW’s campaign for the new Routan minivan caught my eye.  Its tagline is “Have a baby for love. Not for German Engineering.”  The premise is that the vehicle is so awesome that people are getting pregnant just to buy it.  With Brooke Shield’s as a cleverly cast spokeswoman they produced a great satirical video  http://www.vw.com/ where she confronts pregnant women with her accusation that they have gotten knocked up just as a front for buying the Routon.  Finally a sense of humor in the automotive category where women are usually the punchline of the joke or dolled up like centerfolds! 

The van has some cool features and I think I would have checked it out if it were around in 06.  But what I like most about this campaign is that it reveals a significant Whole Truth that coming to terms with driving a minivan takes some serious soul searching for women.  Let’s face it, most minivan marketers are happy to settle for the Half Truth when women say “I love my van!”.  C’mon who really, really  oves their minivan?

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December 5, 2021
by Mary Lou Quinlan

A look at an early production of WORK


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The God Box Goes Global!

“The God Box” has grown to include an app, audio book, philanthropic venture and solo show performed by Mary Lou across the US. Now The God Box Project goes global to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
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