I was watching my rampaging White Sox on TV a couple of nights ago and noticed something that any disciplined TV-watcher has probably noticed for awhile now: automobile adds are using phrases redolent of American patriotism and independence in their ad campaigns. Cadillac's tag line is "Life. Liberty. And the Pursuit." Chevrolet promises "An American Revolution." A shade less derivative but no less mock-inspirational, Chrysler says, "Let's Refuel America."
The irony is beyond belief. It seems Cadillac is after a younger demographic with this campaign: a young, George Michael-ish bachelor zooms through the deserted neon canyons of an anonymous cityscape, his internal monologue full of self-congratulation for the wisdom of his purchase of a Cadillac. This ad campaign must be a decade behind the times (ergo the George Michael reference). Younger drivers don't give a turd about these enormous, sclerotic gas-guzzlers driven by Bubbies and Zadies all over the land: they want cars that manage to perform reasonably well while using less gas. That would make them feel pretty cool.
Chevrolet, like Ford, is really all about its trucks, and so this ad campaign at least launches a cluster-bomb toward what it perceives as the patriotic heartland: Hillary-voting, Andrea Mitchell-hating redneck country. Meanwhile, you have to really be an auto-geek (or have a son that's turning into one) to learn that Chevy is going to move ahead with its production of the plug-in hybrid Chevy Volt in 2010. Talk about an American revolution: a car company actually doing something about mobility, economy and environmental stewardship! I must be dreaming.
As for Chrysler: you'll be shocked to learn that it's not really refueling America; it's offering a fixed price for unleaded and diesel to go along with its vehicles. Thanks for the diesel deal, guys. Now what about all the health problems attributed to it?
As scary as he can sometimes be, I think Charles Krauthammer was right on this issue: create a U.S. energy tax that keeps gasoline above the panic "price point" (which appears to be about $4 a gallon) so that we incentivize conservation and alternative fuel technology, rather than subsidizing oil companies and emirates.
Now that's life, liberty and the pursuit.