Take a look at the Dodge commercial above. Let me first start off by saying that, even though the message is bizarre, I love it, as pure American pop cultural silliness. The ad, aired during the FIFA World Cup match between the US and England, shows British Redcoats preparing for an attack by the Americans. Even though I knew it was coming, I hooted out loud when the camera shows George Washington as the driver of one of the cars, steering with one hand and holding the American flag out the window with the other, like a proud veteran!
Perhaps, given the context, Dodge should be allowed some “humorous” license. But, the intended humor and patriotism that the commercial is so obviously trying to elicit is greatly overshadowed by some incredibly bad timing. It almost seems to be saying that Dodge will soon be playing the part of the British, not the Americans, in its Revolutionary War analogy.
Amazingly enough, in one short minute, the commercial glorifies gas-guzzling cars, military aggression (even if it IS the Revolutionary War), machines driving across the environment, and finishes with the tag line: “A couple of things America got right: cars, and freedom. This is essentially claiming that these two things were/are “right”, both when they were achieved and as they currently exist.
Well, let’s see…this is while the U.S. is fighting two unpopular wars, the biggest oil spill the world has ever seen is still unresolved, oil prices are high, global climate change and the environment are top-of-mind, and, we have essentially sold our “freedom” to foreign oil companies.
The message of the ad seems to boil down to this: American freedom is directly dependent on our big, gas-guzzling American cars. Of course, one subtext is that the cars, and thus the freedom, are dependent on oil.
This message is both ridiculous and patently absurd.
Many, if not most, of the troubles we face today can be traced back to fossil fuels, especially oil. I don’t believe that an in-depth accounting is required, but everything from exploding populations to carbon emissions to waste to war and much more, has been exacerbated by cheap oil and the quest to obtain more of it.
It is clear that one of the consequences of our dependence on foreign oil is that we are continuing to fund, in extremely large amounts, the very same people who would love to take away our freedom, and that this transfer of wealth has led directly to the rise of terrorism and the tightening of civil liberties in the U.S.
At home, our desire to extract the last remaining drops of our own oil has directly led to the BP Gulf disaster, and loss of another kind of freedom: the right to not be deprived of “life, liberty or property.” This is exactly what is happening to many residents of that area.
Therefore, it would seem that driving less fuel-efficient cars actually equals less freedom. One possible corollary to this, is that driving more fuel-efficient cars equals more freedom. (Of course, this is only the case because, in 2010, many U.S. citizens require a car to maintain their life and liberty and to pursue their happiness. Access to more transportation and living choices also could equal more freedom.)
Ironically, Dodge’s position is much like that of the British in its commercial: receiving a lot of very bad news, and being forced to beat a humiliating retreat. The real “enemies” are Dodge’s customers, and each competing small car, hybrid vehicle, or electric automobile purchased is a shot in its direction. And again, just like the Revolutionary War British, Dodge keeps fighting back with yesterday’s tactics.
What do you think? How how badly out of touch is Dodge? Tell us you thoughts in the comments section.
Steve Puma is a member of Team SABA Motors in the California Cleantech Open and a Bay Area sustainability consultant focused on clean transportation. He currently writes for 3P as well as on his personal site, BrightPuma.com, about sustainability, alternative fuel vehicles and how technology can enable change. Steve holds an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio Graduate School and a BA in Computer Science from Rutgers University. You can contact Steve through email or LinkedIn, or follow him on twitter.b>