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Marketing the Two Car Family

Video Tuesday

via Price Tags

An ad from the 1950’s constructs the big dream.

We tend to forget that our current extravagance, the big automobile experiment, has had a very short and well marketed history.

  1. JohnRobertWilliams
    September 20, 2011 at 8:55 am

    Not only has “the big automobile experiment, has had a very short and well marketed history”, drivers are getting more “NASCAR” every year. Recently, to make the racing more appealing, NASCAR passed a new rule….”Have At It, Boys”.
    Street drivers, seemingly, are taking it to heart, too.
    Courtesy and respect seem to be gone, and it’s been replaced by, “Have At It, Boys”!
    Not only did I NOT get the memo that “X” Street was owned by the jerk in the black Pontiac or the green Ford Windstar, the animosity, the push-backs, the tire hits, sure feel like NASCAR mentality and marketing has hit the public roads. What’s the rush? How did the marketing of the last 60 years eliminate the “person” and made it all about what one drives? All the Fred and Wilma Flintstones’, needing their mastodons and brontosauruses to get themselves around town, are becoming more like the dinosaurs they are attempting to navigate every day.
    Be Nice.
    It’s called “civil”-ization, for a reason.

  2. September 20, 2011 at 10:10 am

    We certainly haven’t looked back since the 50s in terms of the two-car family. For me, at this point, it’s much more about the lasting results this early cultural experiment has had on our cities and communities. I’ve been car-less now for over two years, and it is sometimes a challenge. Our communities are still being designed for the assumptive automobile driver. If you’re a family with a teenager in Traverse City, you’re very likely to be a three-car (or more) family!

    How do your children get to school? For many it’s in the back of a big car because there simply are not many options. I grew up in New York City and the assumption for me was that I’d walk to school. My family didn’t own a car. This assumption was and still is a reality because in a weird irony New York – a city known for its traffic – is ultimately very, very, walkable… even by a nine year old.

    The extension of our city outward, what many call urban sprawl, is inevitable. We should be mandating connectivity as new infrastructure is built up. Imagine if TCAPS had to first ensure for the provision of safe non-motorized routes to school before it added new facilities! There is overwhelming research to suggest physical activity prior to (and during) school improves the ability for individuals to learn. (Check out this video from researcher John Medina and his book Brain Rules. http://vimeo.com/2299625 )

    Brain Rule #1 – Exercise from Pear Press on Vimeo.

    I’m thinking now of TC West High, and in another irony the Children’s House Montessori School, (Maria Montessori’s practice is all about activity). Wouldn’t it be great if before these schools were built, safe trails to them from the city had been designed and created as a matter of policy or desire?

    It might not seem like a big deal, but we’re teaching our children that one of the highest priorities in their lives is to get their own car. And this is how we develop, as my friend John would say, more “NASCAR” drivers in our communities. Schools and other critical infrastructure poised disconnectedly from pedestrian realities of our cities are the breeding grounds for a culture of individuals believing they can only survive in this world wrapped in 4000 pounds of steel and plastic.

  3. James
    September 20, 2011 at 10:12 pm

    Great find, Gary!

    Have you ever seen the 1939 World’s Fair Futurama video?

    The Futurama exhibit presented a “vision of the future” sponsored by none other than General Motors.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Futurama_(New_York_World's_Fair)

    Here are the videos. It gets better in part two.
    Part I – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=74cO9X4NMb4
    Part II – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WU7dT2HId-c&feature=related

    What if we had billions upon billions to spend a marketing campaign that told us that future progress translated to great public transit? (which it does, btw.)

  4. Marya
    September 22, 2011 at 8:06 pm

    More than half (maybe 2/3) of the students at the middle school where I teach raised their hands when asked, “How many of you would bike or walk to school if there was a safe route?”

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