Like the Coelacanth

Back in the late 90s, when Volkswagen was an advertising tastemaker, they ran a clever TV spot where a mechanic pops open the trunk of a new VW only to find—to his shock—a full-size spare tire inside.

“I thought these were extinct.” he says to his buddy, who replies, “That’s what they said about the coelacanth.”

The implication being that Volkswagens had thoughtful features that other manufacturers had long since done away with. Something that distinguished them, and something that you, dear car buyer, wanted in on. It was a great bit of ad writing, not just for the geek humor, but because the audience grasped the bigger picture immediately. This thing is unusual, and it tells you everything you need to know about the kind of products Volkswagen makes.

Take that concept, reverse the implication, and it’s what you get when sites do things like this:

Screenshot of QuickBooks Online popup blocker notice

This thing is unusual, and it tells me a lot by implication about the company that put it together. Only this is one coelacanth that best remains extinct.