The Auto Ad Death Race

Automotive advertising has taken a turn for the lethal. There is no other way for it to end up. These ads, of late, are full of video footage of successful young men driving their (sometimes) mediocre cars at ridiculous speeds through the downtown portions of major metropolitan areas. Even Volvo commercials are doing it. Safety, indeed.You will a see young executive type speeding through a tunnels onto a downtown street, jerking the wheel to pass a truck on the wrong side of the street, all to show off for his simpering girlfriend. You will see two cars racing through an urban area, any semblance of caution thrown to the winds. You will see people, in short, driving like absolute idiots.

But those people are well-dressed and driving expensive cars, and a good-looking woman (or man, if the driver is a woman) is riding with them, so they must be successful and everybody (well, almost everybody) wants to at least look successful. So everybody, including our sons and daughters, will want to drive exactly like those cool folks on the teevee. Although our teenagers may not all be able to afford the cars that they are driving in those commercials, they will want to emulate those smooth young men behind the wheel by driving like them.

But when they try to drive like that downtown in the real world, they are likely to get one of two things: arrested or killed. Regardless of the current craze built around NASCAR and the risky driving in these commercials, public roads are not race tracks. Worse, passenger vehicles are not race cars. I drove race cars for quite some time, and I can tell the difference. The yahoos in the commercials, or in Dad’s BMW don’t have a clue.

I would like to ask the automakers and their advertising agencies to slow down a little, but it wouldn’t help. I know that you’re too greedy. I know that you can’t wait to turn just one more buck. But, someday soon, the grieving parents of a teenager that kills herself driving just the way she saw someone driving your car, in your advertisement, is going to figure out that she did it because your message told her it was all right. And those parents are going to sue your sorry asses in the year 2042. Nor will it stop there. Once you lose the first one, or word gets out that you’re settling with the parents of the dead and maimed, you’re toast.

One of the problems with a corporation is that it is impersonal, ethics-free, and interested only in turning a profit. More and more, corporations are being run by people who have exactly those same characteristics, and sometimes worse. A CEO is just a Cash Extraction Officer. A CFO is just the Chief Financial Offender. Until we start putting people with ethics into those top jobs (that excludes attorneys and MBA’s, in the main) they are going to continue to operate like money-seeking robotic missiles.

I am not a litigious man. I think most lawsuits are proof of pure greed, and nothing more. But the CEOs and CFOs of the auto manufacturers are killing our kids with their commercials. Sue the bastards until they stop.


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