Gasoline has now peaked $4 per gallon and you’re stuck driving a hulking behemoth that gets 12 M.P.G. — if you’ve got a tailwind. How the heck did this happen?
It’s not easy to admit, but most of us are willing victims of marketing. Very, very clever people are paid lavish salaries to coax, convince, or otherwise cajole our ideals and opinions about everything from cars to shoes to pizza to trashbags. Yup, these are the guys whose job it is to bend our wills — and they’re very, very good at it. In particular, U.S. automakers & their marketing wizards have a magical hold on us. They’ve been hand-crafting the public’s perceived need for the kind of vehicles they want us to buy for decades now. Not sure what I mean? Don’t think you can be manipulated? Need proof?
"That thing got a Hemi?"
Pure genius. I didn’t even know what the heck a Hemi was when that Dodge advertising campaign launched, but I sure was checking the contents of my shorts, feeling so inadequate over not having a big honkin’ truck equipped with a Hemi engine. Think that doesn’t sell vehicles? Think again! Take note of how many big hinkin’, 8-cylinder, 4-wheel drive, quad-cab trucks and lumbering, oversized SUVs are on the road serving as nothing more than single-occupancy commuter vehicles.
Yup, American automakers haven’t needed to be concerned with fuel efficiency or catering to the small car market because they’ve had most of us securely under their spell for so long. They’ve snookered us into believing that bigger & more cylinders are better and that we need the horsepower to do zero-to-60 in 6.5 seconds or else we’re pansies. If you’re driving a small, inexpensive car with a fuel-efficient 4-cylinder engine, you must either be destitute (because affluent people drive big cars with beefy engines), or some kind of treehugging, rice-eating, commie-lovin’, hippie.
By golly, if you’re not driving a big-ass, rubber-burnin’, God Bless America, gas-guzzling GM truck, well, Bob Seger & John Mellencamp are going to come over to your house, beat ya up, drink up all your beer, and prolly take your girlfriend!
And women aren’t immune to the crafty marketing pressures either. A decade or so ago, U.S. automakers began targeting that segment by hoodwinking safety-conscious moms with the false perception that SUVs are safer.
Even now, they’re feverishly trying to hustle the more environmentally-aware among us with SUV hybrids. These are nothing more than a sad, misguided, & utterly greedy attempt on the behalf of automakers to seem "green" yet continue to cater to outdated, redneck attitudes. The whole idea of the improved fuel efficiency of a hybrid is almost completely negated by the added weight & poor aerodynamics of SUVs. (Not to mention that they’re still not nearly as safe as they’d have you believe.)
So how the heck are we supposed to feel good about buying a small car from these hucksters now?
After more than 50 years of profiting handsomely (to put it mildly) from skillfully shaping our desires & subsequent purchasing habits by building false perceptions and stroking our redneck egos about how horsepower equals manhood, the automotive industry & their marketing geniuses have a social responsibility to apply that same moneygrubbing fervor towards making Americans feel OK about buying smaller, less resource-wasteful cars.
Advertising shapes public opinion so automakers need to get busy selling a new idea!