How many times have you seen a great ad featuring a convertible car, two occupants hair blowing in the wind, driving along a windy road under a glorious sun and in the midst of some great scenery? Maybe they are winding up the California Coast or maybe to the edge of the Grand Canyon. Maybe they aren’t in a convertible at all, but they are pulling up to a drive-in diner. It’s a ubiquitous scene, no? What I am getting at with this post is the power of marketing and advertising to capture the imagination and ingrain us with the concept of the American dream lived out through our vehicle and the wide open road, or the American Dream of flaunting our new ride at a high profile popular hang out.
Now contrast that scene on TV with the reality of American City life. There aren’t too many drag races in American Cities; the wide open spaces are gone to the suburbs and gridlock. Drive-ins are going the way of the Dodo. Sure we all like to hop in our car anytime and go anywhere we want, but the realities of clogged arteries (in more ways than one) and expensive gas have brought the American Dream’s party down to a dull roar.
It’s that dull roar that marks American life right now. The murmurs and whispers you hear are people searching for the next zeitgeist the next iteration of the American West. From liberty, to manifest destiny to the open road to space and now… The rhizomes are already beginning to sprout from the uncertainty of where the world will go next. Is it to the mass produced electric car? Is it mass transit and high speed rail? Marketers have the perfect opportunity at hand to define the next iteration of the American Dream.
Imagine a portrait of an intensely individualistic and rugged America, iPod plugged in as he slides from bike to train to bus to destination. Maybe it’s a large park in the city center. Maybe it’s a suburban lake where he is meeting friends for a BBQ. Maybe it’s not a rugged individual per say, but a ruggedly individualistic family as they load up in the electric minivan to head for the coast. Maybe it’s not an electric minivan but instead a rented minivan rented special for the occasion. But you get my point. Someone has to dare to imagine in this time of murmurs and whispers, of people too timid to boldly declare, “This is the magnificent world that awaits us if you will just buy in!” Let’s drown out the dreary message of the inevitable and the impossible with the magnificent vision of the impossibly possible.
It’s a beautiful America that’s possible and an America that’s beautifully sustainable and if it is to catch on it will be because marketers everywhere imagined it and glorified it. Is it not the true task of marketers to generate demand? Why not generate demand for a lifestyle?