About 10 years ago, my wife and I encountered an elderly woman in a snowy mall parking lot looking lost.
We asked if she needed help, and she said she couldn't find her car. The only description she could provide at first was that it was red.
My wife began listing car brands she could think of to help narrow down our search. Sensing that this could go on for a while, I quickly jumped in: "Is it a Buick?"
"Yes, that's it!" the woman exclaimed. I located the car, indeed a red Buick, a few aisles away, and she drove off, grateful for the help.
Buick has come a long way in the last decade, but ask anyone who doesn't work for General Motors or one of its dealerships to describe Buick customers, and you'll probably hear two words: "old people."
Like most things involving Detroit (you may know it as "America's most miserable city") and its automakers, Buick's image is largely outdated. The average age of its buyers has fallen from 64 years old in 2007 to 57 today. Considering that the average person who was 64 years old in 2007 is 69 today, that's an impressive decline.
In fact, Buick was the only brand to have its average buyer's age decline from 2007 to 2011, according to Polk. Still, Buick had the second-oldest buyers in the industry, behind only Lincoln (whose customers have aged even more waiting for their new MKZ to show up).
So Buick's customers are still relative dinosaurs, which brings us to GM's new commercial for the Buick Encore featuring, of all things, dinosaurs.
GM says the spot, which will be seen first on ESPN this weekend, is all about highlighting the small crossover's agility and maneuverability compared to all the lumbering luxury SUVs whose fossilized airbags and heated leather seats will one day be dug up and reassembled in museums.
But really, deep down, all Buick commercials are about trying to show that Buicks aren't just old people's cars anymore. It's no coincidence that the couple shown driving the Encore under a brontosaurus' foot probably have a combined age of less than the average Buick buyer.
The athletes who have appeared in recent Buick commercials -- Shaquille O'Neal and Peyton Manning -- bear little resemblance to the typical Buick customer. They probably wouldn't have been caught dead in a Buick until GM paid them to try to make everyone forget about Tiger Woods.