Nearly $14 billion was spent advertising cars in the US last year. Cars were advertised way more than anything else.
That works out at $45 for every single man, woman and child in the country. And that’s not counting spend on advertising fuel, car insurance etc. It is a truly astonishing amount to spend on propaganda. And it wasn’t a one-off; every year it is the same and in every country it is the same.
No tangible product, nothing edible, nothing that can be deemed to further the human mind or spirit came out of that expenditure. It was all about buying peoples’ opinions. Throughout our lives every one of us is subjected to the unavoidable, repeated, simple, powerful message:
Buy a Car.
Over and over and over again. From billboards, at the cinema, in the newspapers, on the radio – you know the score, it’s everywhere.
And here we come to the more insidious side of the deal. This huge sum of money is taken from individual car buyers and given to the big media companies. Car purchases pay for a large part of the livelihood of all the media folk who produce all of the mainstream content on TV, Hollywood, in Newspapers, and all the rest. So where is freedom of the press and freedom of speech in this scenario? Where is the impartiality? How are alternative voices, however rational and reasonable, meant to be heard?
Well, to be frank, they haven’t been, or at least not until very recently. The web may already be chock-full of car advertising but at least social media editorial and opinion is still largely independent. Which is one more reason why protecting – and using – these fledgling freedoms is so important.
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