Green with Envy – The old becomes new again for autos and politicians
The finest in art influences various aspects of culture. Fashion requires illustrators, auto makers go to the digital drawing boards initially for concepts, and politicians need the perfect photo framed with flags, patriotism and power. This cycle is not new – rather the tools used to achieve great designs, photographs or branding messages have advanced as “the human element” advances.
In 1935, the race car and it’s driver gleamed with envy. Margaret Bourke-White so daringly, as a woman, captured the Indy 500 cars of the time using her advanced tool – “the camera.” The fact that Ford’s Model T years earlier modernized manufacturing and automation to advance first American and ultimately global culture to a new age is a grade school lesson. At that time though Ethanol, while plentiful, was swapped for “black gold” – oil and gas. Even then, The Model T was able to obtain 25 miles to the gallon! Design changes, style requirements and ultimately the gleam for speed changed automotive requirements to the point that the consumer has always waited for what design would inspire them to their next purposeful toy.
In a week where bankers made difficult choices and politicians acquiesced to tax payor limits, the great automotive companies landed in New York City with one message mostly: “we are green.”
But you probably knew this from banner ads, commercials with kids and ideas that claim a start to a plausible solution. Big oil claims to be at a start with at least one firm investing over $8 billion over 10 years to advance alternative fuel technology. (Actually this would be $500 million or so more per year than J P Morgan Chases’ buyout of Bear Stearns for $236 million or the $250 million earned by New York Yankee A Rod).
Artists, like Robert Heindel, made an early career in Detroit illustrating the American ideals of consumerism including the automakers. Today’s artists mesh with industry consistently and dependently. Without a great photograph, drawing or painting the engineer’s dream can not turn into a consumer want and need.
Margaret Bourke-White’s privilege at being the first woman recognized as the “mother of modern photojournlism” came because she documented the change at hand in culture for business and government. The New York Auto Show exhibitors today employ every aspect of messaging perfected by artists and their marketing infrastructure. The trouble remains that “big hat, no cattle” marketing let’s the consumer have options which are less than earth shattering.
Small cars that are Smart, Progressive races across the country for a better fuel, and monster “mamma” trucks which weigh more than the usefulness of their hybrid inners or price are the current rage. The electric car, which “officially” died in 2003 for Toyota, remains a Japanese experiment so much so that Mitsubishi continued to introduce their plug in from the Tokyo 07 show at New York (their solution is a Volkswagen “bug” inspired vehicle called the iMiEV Sport). As a high end consumer, this will probably be a great option for your teenager’s first car – as long as it is produced and offered in the US of A.