Great marketing is about amplifying meaning

Check these out and see if they don't shift your feelings for Priuseses:

This series is brilliant.  The Prius is the new protest car of the intelligentsia, haven taken over that mantle from the Volvo 240 station wagon.  One sees more bumper stickers per square inch on the back of Priums than on any other brand of car, I'd wager.  As such, having James Lipton play in public with the branding of the car will tickle the fancy of many existing Prius owners.  For others, like me, it softens the character of the brand, making it fun in an Ivy League kind of way, a little more accessible. 

The series works because it does not engage in spinning up a fake, sugary myth.  Rather, it is amplifying meaning which already exists out in the world.  The Prius is a car for people who think about cars in a different way, or more precisely, for people who don't think about cars as cars.  But it is a car for thinkers who are likely to take delight in these twisted cultural references, and so we have thinkers here being thinkers.  James Lipton is James Lipton.  Shakespeare loves the letter W.  And so forth.

It's also a great example of art imitating life imitating art.  The choice of "MC Flossary" and Shakespeare for two of these videos is an inspired one, referencing a much deeper satire created several years ago by Sacha Baron Cohen, with Mr. Lipton as his unwitting victim and dance partner.  The Flossary Prius clip works that much better because of this cultural backstory.  The fun here starts at the 1:18 mark:

As Grant McCracken argues, we need more "chief culture officers" operating in our midst.  Not "culture officers" in the sense of folks who look in and steward our internal organizational cultures, but folks who like to wallow around in all the cultural currents which exist out in the world.  Who can parse meaning in a generative way.  I have to believe that this Pria campaign was forged by a group which included at least one cultural officer.  To be able to amplify meaning, you need first to be aware of it.