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The Power Of The Message

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

The DriveWrite Archives

The Power Of The Message

Geoff Maxted
DriveWrite
January 8, 2014


1958 Ford
In the 1950’s and 60’s - from what I’ve gleaned from Mad Men - smoking was not only harmless, it was good for you. Smoking made men smooth and urbane and women alluring and kinda sexy. This, we all now know, was a pack of lies and the truth is somewhat different. Such is the power of advertising and the public opinion generated from it.

Advertising is everywhere and most walks of life now come replete with commercial messages. We don't even have to think for ourselves. All we have to do is sit on our comfy backsides - stuffing our faces with something we saw on the television - and be told how to live our lives. From how to dress and what to put on our hair to what our homes should look like and what should be on our drives, practically every facet of our lives is taken care of. Such is the power of advertising as Aleksandr Orlov will be pleased to tell you.

Is it the product we like or would aspire to owning or is it the way in which it is advertised? The snarling TV advertisement for the Skoda Fabia VRS from a couple of years back is a case in point. DriveWrite has driven the car extensively and whilst it’s a good car and a hoot to drive it will not, as the ad suggests, frighten off opposition from a Porsche, for example. It simply isn’t, as an American might insist on saying if provoked, bad-ass enough, despite it’s promoted image. Nevertheless we continue to get ads of cars part hidden in the darkness like mysterious wild beasts.

Fortunately, advertising is now monitored for taste, decency and accuracy - unlike the olden days - and, to a certain extent children are protected from the worst of it, but it remains a major force in our lives. Car manufacturers know this and succeed with their campaigns because they are, in the broadest sense, truthful. They understand that no advertisement may encourage or condone dangerous, inconsiderate or irresponsible driving. This does not prevent flamboyant driving in scenes which are clearly fantasy or ‘theatrical’ so that the action is distanced from reality, though. They will appeal to our vanity, our common sense and our lifestyles. They will treat men and women differently, which is probably just as well.

So, is it the case that your choices are not your own, despite what you think? Is your mind made up before you even think about it? Are our lives governed by actions that have preceded us? Phew, after a while all this metaphysical stuff pecks at your head doesn’t it; but the fact remains we are sold cars for their perceived qualities and it is up to you, the customer, to make the right decision based on the facts. One thing’s for sure, the power of the message not withstanding, we do get some great cars these days - and they don’t make your clothes smell.



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