...don't even ignore 'em.
-- Samuel Goldwyn

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Problem Solved--saving the world through advertising.

Have you noticed? No sooner do we stumble into some kind crisis, like the gasoline shortage and price spirial caused primarily by Hurricane Katrina tearing up the gulf south refineries, that corporations jump right on the problem and solve it--with ad campaigns.

In this first post of a series, let's focus on General Motors, which, like other car makers, has launched aggressive ad campaigns saying they're all over the "addicted to oil" problem--like, the excellent gas mileage their cars get--for example, the Chevy Cobalt line (Look out for these car company links--they use Flash a lot; slow downloads on dialup.). I saw a Chevy TV spot during the Olympics saying the Cobalt gets 35 MPG on the highway. Insofar as you can trust the EPA mileage numbers, that is.

But more important, GM has jumped headlong into the bio-fuels age, saying in TV and magazine ads, and on the Web, that they're all over ethanol--like, GM already has 1.5 million GM vehicles on the road that burn E85--that's the 85% ethanol-gasoline cocktail that could help us clean up the air and cut our dependence on Middle East oil. The ads don't say these are all fleet vehicles. Not that they need to disclose this. Have you seen an ad for an E85 car or truck? I haven't.

The GM campaign uses lots of flash (and Flash), and no new information--and what they're advertising is hard to find. GM's ethanol site does have a link called "Locate your nearest E85 ethanol fuel stations," which takes you straight off the GM site to the home page of the National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition, where you can discover how few vehicles are available and, more to the point, how few ethanol stations there are...or at least how few the NEVC knows about. I live in Washington (the EverGREEN State), and my nearest E85 stations (3) are at Ft. Lewis (Army), McChord AFB, and the Hanford nuclear site (DOE)--and I couldn't fill up there even if I was sure my car would run on the stuff. Only green government vehicles admitted. Well, maybe I just live in a developing state. How about that paragon of the future, California? Except for a Ford dealer in San Diego, the other three E85 stations listed on the NEVC site are at Lawrence National Labs in Livermore and Berkeley, and Vandenberg AFB. No civilians allowed.

So, why do companies spend millions to advertise something that barely exists as if they've got it handled? Where were the campaigns for E85 cars, and the corn-juice stations near me? Does this hype speed up the adoption of these solutions or just send us back to our La-Z-Boys, assured that the problem's solved, or will be soon? This is only one example. Watch for the "Problem Solved" campaigns on a screen near you. Hint--check out oil company commercials.

1 comment:

chlomonster said...

this from the exxon/mobil website, when i searched for "ethanol":

The Ethanol Option

One potential alternative fuel is ethanol, produced from corn or other crops. Cultivation of crops for use as fuel requires substantial amounts of land that would otherwise be available for food production, forests or other uses. Unless subsidized by government, ethanol is more expensive than gasoline. Moreover, producing ethanol requires the use of fossil fuels to produce the crops and convert them into fuel.

they are actually looking out for the puplic welfare by NOT investing in ethanol. don't it just make you feel all warm inside??