Category Archives: Media/Marketing

American Transportation

Taking a cue from R.J. Reynolds’ Joe Camel, Ford starts ‘em early. It’s forthcoming $349 toy truck “can carry two passengers with a combined weight of up to 130 pounds, runs on a 12-volt battery, can drive off-sidewalk on wet grass and gravel, and comes with an MP3 jack and FM radio. The Extreme Sport version comes with LED headlamps that mimic those of the larger 2015 F-150.”

The accompanying promotional photo could hardly be an apter depiction of the essential childishness of our cars-first transportation order:

kiddie-car

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Laugh of the Week

If you look around — I’m not going to do them the dignity of linking anything, you’ll see that Ford is now trying to rescue its long-moribund Lincoln nameplate for supposed “luxury” cars.  Take a look.  It’s damned funny stuff.

My favorite howler from among great long strings of them:  Here’s what Ford’s James D. Farley, Jr., the pitiable head marketer for this new junk-push, told The New York Times yesterday:

The name Lincoln has very strong meaning for this country. What he stood for as president was independence, fortitude and elegant thinking.

Yes, the president who pushed railroads, preserved the nation-state, and said, if he could, he would do so without abolishing slavery was all about cars, “independence,” and guts.

The “elegant thinking” part?  Well, that’s just pure comedy gold…

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Another Subsidy

media-car When capitalists and their minions work to undermine public transportation and/or cycling and pedestrian infrastructure, they invariably talk about public subsidies to those lifelines. It ought to be hilarious, given the scale and range of ways the public underwrites the supposedly “private” automobile.

The latest development on that latter front is the National Highway Traffic Subsidy Safety Administration’s announcement that it will be undertaking vehicle design research on an urgent basis. Per Automotive News:

DETROIT — A computer-driven car may not be commercially viable for at least another decade, but federal regulators are taking it seriously.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has launched a research project to figure out what sort of cockpit controls would be appropriate for a human motorist in a computer-driven vehicle.

Tim Johnson, NHTSA’s director of crash avoidance and electronic controls research, said the agency would conduct the $1.75 million research project with Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va.

The researchers want to design controls that would enable a motorist to let the computer do the driving, then take over safely if the computer is flummoxed by an unexpected event.

“That is the work we are starting up right now,” Johnson said here Tuesday, Oct. 16, during the SAE Convergence 2012 conference sponsored by SAE International. “We are putting a high priority on this. We are trying to figure this out.”

Why is robo-car research such a high priority, you might wonder. It seems like — and might actually be — a pipedream.

The answer lies in photo at right above. Capitalists would love nothing more than to eventually free up people riding in automobiles to go ahead and participate as fully in mass media experiences while in-car as they do in-home. That would be a marketing bonanza, in a market-totalitarian society in which commuting time remains, along with sleep and paid work, a last, stubborn frontier.

Is it the role of the nation’s main transportation safety agency to be doing corporate capitalists’ exploratory research for them, especially in this area? Conversely, can you imagine the outcry if it started conducting product development research to advance the design and appeal of, say, light-rail trains?

Our grandchildren will be very amused by our present answers to that seemingly obvious questions.

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Cars and the Olympics

From the overclass perspective, it doesn’t get much better than the Olympics.  A huge marketing platform that feeds off sports and nationalism, while also going far toward fueling those forms of unreason?  “Bring it on!,” say the masters of mankind.

Of course, selling automobiles is one of the top reasons for the existence of this spectacle.  As such, we wouldn’t want the inherent inefficiency of cars-first transportation to actually hinder the flow of the show, would we?  The Dream Team can’t be stuck in traffic while it’s supposed to be at work for the sponsors, can it?

Hence, London apparently now has Olympics-only automotive lanes all over town:

olylane

Orwell, where have you gone?

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A Psychic Weapon

Asked to elaborate on his firm’s findings that most first-time buyers of hybrid cars do not buy a second one, yet do exhibit increased loyalty to the corporate brand of their first hybrid, R.L. Polk & Co researcher Brad Smith tells Automotive News that offering a hybrid is “a great conquesting tool for brands…a competitive edge when it comes to attracting new customers.”

“Hybrids,” notes Automotive News, “accounted for just 2.4 percent of total U.S. auto sales last year.”

More evidence for the DbC thesis that “alternative fuel” cars are simply loss leaders, an expensive but effective marketing ploy.

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Homicide Platform

Corporate capitalists are addicted not just to perpetuating cars-first transportation, but to using the car itself as a platform for peddling more and more products.  Indeed, that’s a big part of why cars are so indispensable to the overclass:  They are unique devices for “moving the metal,” which is trade-talk for selling people far more stuff than they actually need.

Take the case of Intel’s just-announced $100-million investment fund, which, according to Automotive News, Intel launched “to encourage hardware and software developers to develop new technologies for automotive infotainment” — i.e., to move more microchips.  This is utterly logical, since the main business problem for Intel, as for all major corporate capitalist firms, is market saturation.  How can we find — meaning make — new markets?

As Auto News reports, the insides of automobiles are now being exploited as one way of creating these artificial new markets:

By 2014, autos will be one of the three fastest growing markets for connected devices and Internet content, according to a recent report from Gartner Inc., a research firm based in Stamford, Conn.

Intel wants a piece of that action.

entuneThe new deployments of computer chips into cars will, Auto Age says, take forms such as Entune, developed by Intel partner Denso.  Entune is the infotainment system that apparently already comes in some new Toyotas.  Watch the demo video here.

Such implantations are not only a glorified way of selling people another cellular telephone, but they will undoubtedly lead to thousands of distracted driving deaths per year.  They are, in other words, yet another case of big businesses killing people on behalf of their shareholders.

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Electric Loss Leader

huckdud Huzzah! GM has now sold 5,003 Chevy Volts in 2011. That’s a whopping five one-hundredths of one percent ( or .0005) of 2011’s total year-to-date sales of 10,503,526 “light vehicles” in the United States.

Meanwhile, with the government having bailed GM out of the cost of developing this pathetic coal-burning boondoggle, the corporation is settling down to reality, where GM now all but openly admits the Volt is nothing more than a halo product/marketing device.

The marketing operates at two levels — mass media and showroom floor.

In the mass media, GM continues to spend exorbitant (probably a record, if judged by marketing dollar per Volt sold) sums on Volt commercials and ads.

The mass media marketing strategy? Greenwash plus techwash:


Volt marketing chief Tony DiSalle says this one car could lift the whole company. “When consumers see that, they quickly go to the notion that you are smart enough to design and engineer and manufacture a vehicle that’s this capable and this innovative, [and] you just must make better vehicles overall,” he says.

The showroom strategy, meanwhile, is straight-up bait-and-switch:

[Chevy] Cruze sales, by contrast [to below-anemic Volt sales], are on fire. The compact was the nation’s 11th-best-selling car last month, more popular than the Toyota Corolla. And Reuss says he thinks he knows one reason why: Customers lured to the showroom to check out the Volt are leaving with keys to a new $16,720 Cruze. That’s the Cruze shown at top; the Volt to the right.

“The Volt is leading to a lot of Cruze sales,” he told a group of Los Angeles-based reporters last week. Customers “went to see the Volt, but not everyone can buy the Volt.” Reuss says he insisted that every Chevrolet dealer get at least one Volt, knowing it will work as a lure even if no one is buying it. [Source: USA Today]

I would add that the other halo effect of this whole scam is an extension of Tony DiSalle’s point about so-called “consumers” thinking that if “you are smart enough to design and engineer and manufacture a vehicle that’s this capable and this innovative, you just must make better vehicles overall.” The larger rotten presumption they are undoubtedly encouraging is the notion that if they can make a Volt, then cars-first transportation must be sustainable and just fine.

You can tell how much trouble they’re in from just how far and how hard they now have reach.

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