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Monday, August 27, 2007

Bad Time to Zag When Everyone's Zigging

Two new car commercials that tell me the industry doesn't get it.

1. Mitsubishi L200 "for people who love the country"
uuuh. it's a truck. I am guessing there are about three people in the UK who actually need to drive around the countryside in a gas guzzling (aka Earth killing) vehicle of this size.

via pirate geek

2. Kia "save the greenbacks"
Nothing quite like mocking our fragile environmental situation to sell a few cars.

See the spot on Transbuddha

Now, I know I'm going a little Al Gore here, but seriously, A) as an industry, we can play a role in influencing public opinion (by not letting work like this get out the door) and B) car companies are already in hot water. Why risk exacerbation? And okay, C) I'm reading The Omnivore's Dilemma and it's freaking me out.

I'm waiting for a model with organic fabric seats, cupholders made of recycled plastic and maybe even electronics powered by a solar panel on the roof. And no, not in a hybrid SUV.


maDe said...

Yo -- great post, since you asked, have you checked out the Chevy Volt concept? Lot's of what you just asked for. I'll throw a link below. And no, not spamming your forums, just a cool car I came across earlier this year. Who knows if Chevy will ever make it though.


Tim said...

the industry, sigh

well some are trying, like saab in belgium who are trying to ride the wave with posters who just have on them with the font color filled in with pictures of a forest
it's for their new 9-3, with biopower E85, a mixture of 15% regular fuel and 85% bio-ethanol (where you can find it...) but on a saab 9-3 (which delivers even more hp than a regular engine)
at least for their open days they are selling the biopower cars for the same price as the regulars

salina said...

made: this is pretty cool. sexy looking, too. the thing about concepts is that you can feel decently certain that some of the innovations will trickle down onto the sales lot--hopefully the case with the volt.

tim: I'm on the fence about E85, but what I really like to hear is the equal price points between eco-cars and regular cars...makes it harder to pass.

Thanks for your comments!

alyson said...

As the answer to "Omnivore's Dilemma," you should borrow Marion Nestle's "What to Eat" ... won't fully help you sleep better, but at least gives better guidance as to what to avoid (and why).

maDe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
maDe said...

salina amen! being from detroit, i have been seen so many great concepts that get translated into lame, boring and heavy. call it blind faith i suppose.

great blog. props to you, aki and the gang.

David MacGregor said...

Umm, now I know that this will go against the grain in a big way but maybe we're in a situation where, because we're asking the wromng question we're getting the wrong answer.

The 'green' movement isn't a marketing fad to be tapped into or exploited while the going is good.

The advertising business is in a difficult position. Who wouldn't want to win a car account? But the truth is that using private cars is a significant part of the problem - whether or not they are 'better' by some degree than traditional gas guzzlers. When you trade your hummer for a Prius some other sap gets to drive it while you feel good about your ugly little jalopy. On the freeway you both get to clog the lanes no matter what your motive or motive power.

So - cars and more cars = more problems for the forseeable future.

Has the time come when advertising cars will make you as much a pariah as those who once convinced Ronald Reagan, Steve McQueen and The Marlboro man to appear in cigarette ads?

Maybe we need to get on board the bus? Figuratively and literally.

Darn I hate writing this - I love cars. If anyone has a Bugatti Veyron they're done with...

salina said...


Agree with you that green isn't a convenient new spin for us to latch onto.

I would not discount the possibility of cars becoming the 2000s benchmark for ex-glamorous, now-sinful marketing. But that's if cars don't change. The Volt (which btw, I saw an ad for in the New Yorker after I commented earlier) is a step in the right direction, but just a step.

What, too, if policy changed? One car per family per generation. That's the way housing works in a lot of places--you share and pass down (no more sweet 16 gigantic bow). And you drive it til it dies--because you're right: getting rid of our old cars doesn't mean they disappear.

I too struggle with that personal commitment. I recently enjoyed a weekend at a cabin where we spent our time boating around the lake-- burning fuel for fun. And damn, it was fun. So subsequently, I spent serious time rationalizing and promising to ride my bike to the grocery story when I got back. Tough to give up, not just make amends for (maybe I should have just planted some trees to negate my carbon output that weekend, hah).

Thanks for your comments; conversation helps our blog thrive.

ODG said...

when i was in school years ago the big deal was the oncoming ice age. oh, and overpopulation, too.

there is a clear trend towards living natural and being in tune with the environment, but while it was a mistake for a QSR to align too closely with something like the Atkins diet so too will it be a mistake for a car company to align too closely with global warming when just focusing on a broad, fuzzy goodness message is the way to go.

even if the global warming scare turns out the way the global cooling (and acid rain and overpopulation...) scare did, nobody can argue with the goodness of natural and recycling.

the car company that gets it and builds cars that nod to environmental goodness while still offering things like power, performance and size (the things consumers want) will be the big winner.