September 11, 2000
Environmentally Conscious Propaganda
Almost every single original concept today has become mainstream or shows a general trend towards becoming so. Propagandists realize this and often exploit these ideas, tainting their flavor of originality and creating a new generation of gullible “wannabes” who can partly adhere to any philosophy, but do not allow themselves to be inconveniences by certain doctrines. Anything that might elicit followers or have the potential to, has drawn the attention of these solicitor, yet one of the fastest growing target audiences today seem to be “nature lovers.” Three examples extracted from various sources reveal that advertisers are targeting a presumed cultural attitude that people today wish not only to save the environment, but also view nature as the idealistic existence in contrast with the mundane city life most people have accustomed themselves to.
Next one must question, “What is the idealistic existence?” All three advertisements point to one notion or another but more often than not seem more different than similar. The fist two automotives ads for Toyota and Honda respectively both deal with the natural environment. However Toyota appeals directly toward nature lovers and those who share an outdoorsman spirit by asking the question of whether one would blend in with nature, or with traffic. The advertisement crosses both a machine and the environment, suggesting that a balance can be achieved between man and nature. The subliminal hint seem to be that the advertised 4-Runner will somehow help one tune into nature. The stance from the Honda Insight, however, is far from Toyota’s. Reaching for the environmentalist, the ad immediately grabs at people who are to some degree conscious of environmental concerns such as pollution. While not an “environmental movement all by itself” the insight does pollute considerably less than normal 4 cylinder and 6 cylinder vehicles. While not designed to adhere to “hardcore” environmentalists, it does appeal to the average person concerned with it. Car promoters also presume that while people today are concerned with the environment, most people wouldn’t lift a finger if they had to go out of their way. The average Joe would rather pass a piece of trash on the street than pick it up, because they would inconvenience themselves in the process. The Insight is accordingly partially battery powered, never needs to be plugged in, and is more of a convenience. The “wannabe” environmentalist can still use a gasoline driven car without devoting too much time and effort toward pollution reduction. Honda, instead of preaching the idealistic existence, instead preaches the idealistic approach to the environment while trying to live an average life. In other words, people should live both conservatively and conveniently.
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While both ads appeal to different notions of the idealistic existence, they do delineate an idealistic way of thinking, in terms of the natural environment. The last ad by Chevron immediately aims for the environmentalist and animal rights activist. Taking the guise of a Wildlife Service Announcement, Chevron attempts to reconcile its reputation as just another gas company, and just another polluter. Yet the ad ends in confusion. Chevron suggests that they had been the local workers who had helped to save the ecosystem along the Mississippi. However the ad offers no concrete statement that they did in fact help. People who would look upon Chevron might normally reflect that as gas company, Chevron would be responsible for the large amount of air pollution today due to increasing gas emissions from automotives. The ad, however, draws attention away from that fact. It seems almost ridiculous that Chevron would even attempt such a sway in opinion through the service announcement and a picture of two raccoons. They presume that people in a cultural sense are more aware of the global environment and are roused to concern even if the current issue does not immediately involve them or their immediate surroundings.
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Each of the three advertisements seems to aim towards people with increasing concern for the environment. The first aims for those with a “nature loving” spirit. The second aims for the environmentally conscious, but to those specifically who would not go out of their way for convenience’s sake. The third and final attempts to reconcile their reputation as a gas company with the promise that “Chevron cares.” In the end after a thorough dissection of each ad, we see that these environmental propagandists appeal toward environmental attitudes to mask a product that would otherwise be considered to have serious repercussions on the environment. Yet why would these advertisements be as far reaching as they are? These notions seem at a first glance too irrational and too idealistic. Keep in mind that most advertisers today are further targeting today’s youth, which are for the most part naïve and have many idealistic notions instilled within their minds. This runs especially true for Americans who pride themselves on being morally astute. The “typical” cultural attitudes today, then, are the attitudes expressed by the younger generation. And the typical cultural attitude today then seems to be the unrelenting scrutiny of environmental issues and the pursuit of a coexistence with nature, which varies in degrees according to the personal philosophy of each and every person today.