The Automotive Media: Last Bastion of Sanity in the World of Political Correctness
Welcome to the automotive world, the last holdout in the battle against political correctness. This is one of the few places left where one can make a statement about women and men and not be assaulted with court cases or be accused of being a bigot. In the automotive media, it is still acceptable to represent men in business suits driving luxury vehicles, and to show mothers driving their kids in a minivan. There is one simple reason that the automotive media has remained unadulterated by political correctness—money. As a private industry, both car manufacturers and aftermarket companies have one goal, to sell cars and car related products, and to make money while doing so. As such, these companies use marketing techniques that will most effective reach their target market, which is the true populace, not the world envisioned by political correctness(hereafter to be referred to as PC). For this reason, the marketing techniques used by the automotive industry give us a more realistic view of society and how men and women view themselves.
The first image I will examine is the most traditional. This is an advertisement for the new Jaguar XK model that was published in the September 2006 issue of Car and Driver. The target audience of this ad is extremely obvious—middle-aged to older males. The man here is depicted as a professional, and there is nothing else depicted to counteract this stereotype. However, this ad is very effective, because Jaguars are rather expensive the male businessman is the target audience with the largest sales potential. In addition, Jaguars are also known for providing not only comfort and class, but also horsepower and sport performance, which tend to appeal to men. For Jaguar, marketing its product to male business people simply makes sense. This ad shows us the more traditional view of the male as a powerful businessman, and one who is always in control.
This advertisement for Volvo was also featured in the September 2006 issue of Car and Driver. This image varies significantly from the Jaguar ad. It depicts a woman driving a car with two male passengers. However, despite the more modern view of women, this ad has undertones which reveal much about the differences in the way men and women think. For years, Volvo has been has set the bar for automotive safety. In general this tends to appeal more to female audiences. For most men safety is rather low on their list of considerations when purchasing a vehicle. Quite the opposite is true for women; safety is of top concern. This ad initially looks progressive and PC, but when one considers brand history and who the ad actually targets, it becomes evident that Volvo recognizes that women are more safety oriented than men, and as such are a more appropriate market for their vehicles. This violates the foremost assumption of PC—that men and women viewed in the same way.