Say it ain’t so, Suze Orman. Say you ain’t backing up from your long-standing advice that purchasing a new car is almost always a bad idea.
But how else to explain Orman’s appearance in a commerical for Acura’s 2012 “Season of Reason” ad campaign?
In the spot, which began airing earlier this month, Orman, driving a brand new Acura TL, pulls up to a shopper eying a striking pink evening gown in a store window. “Hey girlfriend, get in,” the first lady of finance says, before taking her fan on a careening ride, all the while lecturing her to avoid an “emotional money mistake” like the dress and instead be “reasonable” and “spend smart.”
And what might qualify as “smart” spending? Well, if you guessed a $40,000 2013 Acura TL, you guessed right. When the commercial ends, we hear actor James Spader proclaim in a voiceover, “This holiday, listen to the voice of reason. Acura’s Season of Reason sales event.”
How a dress — which simply cannot cost more than several hundred dollars — is an “emotional money mistake” but purchasing a car costing tens of thousands of dollars is smart and savvy financial move is never addressed. And no, this is no well-meant public service announcement decrying excessive holiday spending gone awry. As the press release put out by Rubin, Postaer and Associates, a the Santa Monica based ad agency responsible for the campaign, puts it:
In each spot, the Acura MDX, TL and ILX act almost like characters, their movements carefully balanced with the dialogue to simultaneously showcase the vehicles’ performance and reinforce the ambassadors’ appeals to reason. The celebrities handled the stunt driving, rather than using a green screen, to produce a more realistic performance and appealing aesthetic.
Let me go all didactic for a minute: the purchase of a new auto is just about one of the worst investments you can make. As soon as you sign your name on the ownership or car loan papers and drive away from the dealership, your new set of wheels begins to lose value. It’s the ultimate “emotional money mistake.” There are very few personal finance gurus who think such a shopping decision is a good idea.
Orman is all too aware of these facts. She is, after all, one of the financial gurus usually telling her fans not to succumb to the lure of the late model car. Take this bit from a column she published on Yahoo Finance:
New cars depreciate 20 percent to 30 percent the second you drive them off the lot. So if you really want to be smart, make someone else’s mistake your lucky day. Buy what I call a new used car – a vehicle that is one or two years old, but has been well maintained and doesn’t have a ton of miles. It’s just like new, except that its price is more like a used car.
I totally get how enticing it is to own a sleek new car that exudes cool, but if I offered you an investment that was pretty much guaranteed to lose 60 percent, would you take me up on it?
I seriously doubt it.
Sadly, that’s the cold truth about owning a car: It is a guaranteed money loser.
So what gives?
It might be instructive to take a look at the last time Orman filmed a commercial for the automobile industry, back in 2004. After encountering ferocious blowback from both fans and media watchdogs for her promotion of General Motor’s “lock ‘n’ roll” zero percent financing scheme, she cancelled the deal, but not before blasting her critics in the Chicago Tribune, claiming that as a “celebrity” she was allowed to do endorsement deals, adding, “I’m not in this for charity. This is a business, and anybody who thinks that it’s not a business is an idiot.”
Orman did not respond to a request for comment.
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