hybrid cars

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Stuart Elliott, The New York Times advertising writer, did a nice piece today on the Honda Insight hybrid automobile. The Insight will be available in late March, starting at just under $20,000. For all the ad campaign talk about “democracy” and “a hybrid for everyone,” this advertising campaign is about price.  It’s a mistake and a missed opportunity. The campaign is from RPA in Los Angeles.   


The allure the hybrid is not the $1,000 above or below the $20,000 price point, it’s in saving fuel, creating less emissions, being forward thinking, and feeling good about it. Hybrid penetration isn’t about the initial car cost – though, if they cost $12,000 they’d be much more common – it’s about making the “late majority” of car buyers believe that driving a hybrid is a normal thing, not an advocacy thing. The late majority wonders if the cars will break down, if their friends will “out” them for being closet liberals, if the cars are peppy enough. These are the big market-moving issues, not price.


In a few years the combustion engine automobile will be the cultural equivalent of the turntable. Why would anyone today buy a non-hybrid car? The campaign should focus on the barriers. Peace!


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All along I’ve been thinking that the gia-normous profits the oil companies are making have been the result of corporate avarice, and that ExxonMobil and the like are making billions at the hands of poor schlubs like me who are spending at the pump liked never before.
I was so wrong.
Exxon/Mobil isn’t the enemy, it’s saving the planet. At least so says their new ad campaign. While waiting on line at the local falafel store a TV commercial on cable news told me so — as did a series of expensive spread ads in the New York Times. The new campaign has a lovely little blue graphic depicting some sort of blue liquid chemical construct, reminding me that ExxonMobil is big into R&D. And the ads educate me that ExxonMobil has people working really hard to solve next generation energy problems. Real people — I’ve read their names and titles. Lastly, ExxonMobil has developed a new exciting separator film for lithium ion batteries “to be” used in hybrid cars. (Did you know hybrid cars lower emissions?)
I’m so glad ExxonMobil is spending $50-100 million on advertising to educate me as to what a helpful company they are. Without that I might have thought them in it for the money. I’m so stupid.

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