Car ads promoting bad driving behavior?
Posing a question to Tribers all over the world: How do car companies advertise their safety features in your country?
We all see car ads everytime we turn on the television. Doesn't matter what you watch, you're certain to see an ad for a new KIA, or the latest Ford, maybe even a fancy new Alfa Romeo. And in an age of ever improving safety features, as well as a car's safety being one of its top selling points ammong the common auto consumor, its not surprising that carmakers would want to run ads highlighting these features when trying to pursue you to buy a Toyota over a Chevy.
A few years ago, luxury brands like Mercedes and Volvo developed complex systems that would allow their cars to recognize a hazard in the path of the vehicle, be it a stopped car, a dog darting out from a yard, or a child stepping out from behind a parked car. These systems would recognize a fast approaching hazard and automatically apply the brakes to stop the car, usually quicker than the driver could react. While these systems had hiccups and are not entirely without faults, the general concept as a safety feature would be hard to argue against: An automated system that can react faster than you to help save lives and avoid accidents.
And like many features that first found themselves solely on luxury cars; they soon became cheaper to make and trickled their way down on to your standard, affordable road car. Just about every major carmaker boasts automatic or self-braking safety features as standard or as an optional extra on most of their models.
And while I think that is great, I have noticed something very different on how car companies advertise these features....particularly in the USofA.
Both Mercedes and Volvo ran ads a few years ago, showing an adult, driving their latest model through a city or suburban setting, they're keeping their eyes on the road and checking their surroundings, being curtious, not speeding around: all the things you'd generally expect and hope from all other drivers. They're then distracted for a split second: maybe their child yells from the backseat and they look up at the rearview mirror; or maybe the look down to check thier fuel reading; or perhaps they bump their coffee mug when reaching for a console dial and spill a bit on their hand, which causes them to look down quickly.
And during that split second they are distracted, a child walks off the curb in front of them, or a car stops short, and before they can turn their heads back, the sensors react and engage the brakes. The car comes to a complete stop, surprising the normally astute driver. The ads usually end with everyone continuing on, and a message like 'Because you can't always see everything'
There is nothing wrong with an ad like this: this is exactly why the system exists. The ad says 'You're a good driver, but just incase...'
Contrast that with ads I've seen for cars like Toyota, and Chevy and more recently, Hyundai, where they show a very distracted young driver cruising down the street. They're checking their phone and texting, or taking selfies, maybe having a great time singing and car dancing with thier friends, or maybe just day dreaming. When all of a sudden there is a series of beeps and the cars comes to a stop, and the camera shows a startled carload of people looking up to see the back end of a stopped truck, or a very puzzled looking pedestrian in a crosswalk. This is usually followed by a smirking spokesperson walking on screen with an 'aw shucks' attitude, and a 'we know you get distracted, so we've got you covered' type message.
And, I honestly think something like that sends a very dangerous message to consumers. Distracted driving is already a huge problem here in America, but running ads that basically say 'Hey, you do you, and don't worry about it. The car will take care of it' only reinforces the mindset of terrible drivers that they can keep driving that way: ESPECIALLY if they just buy a car with automatic braking. It sends the wrong message to your common, everyday driver.
This leads me to my question for Tribers from outside the US. Do you see car ads like this where you are and what are your thoughts? Comment below.