By: David Soyka
I don’t remember too much about my adult neighbors from childhood because, well, they were adults and I wasn’t and back then the line of demarcation was drawn more broadly (as, for example, adults still used belts to keep their pants up and never wore sneakers since no one jogged; they smoked cigarettes for exercise). But one thing I do remember is that Mr. Wallace was a Chevy man, while Mr. Brougley drove Buicks, and Mr. Cedars (also back then, adults were never addressed as anything other than “Mr.”; kids weren’t ever sure that adults even had first names) only bought Fords. My father, however, didn’t give a tinker’s damn about what kind of car it was, as long as it was the cheapest he could buy that could take him reliably from point A to point B.
While my father’s neighbors might not have shared the same tastes in cars, they were, however, all Marlboro men.
For my father’s generation, what made a man (and they were always men) a Chevy guy or a Ford guy had something to do with issues related to horsepower, reliability (detractors of Ford, for example, would say the name stood for Fix or Repair Daily), or a distinctive look.
Times change. Climate change may be debatable, but smoking is undoubtedly hazardous to your health. These days people buy cars less for what’s under the hood than how well they interface with our smartphones, even though doing anything in your car besides driving is probably hazardous to your health.
The post-war generation was in some respects defined by the cars it bought, machines essential to transport families across great American vistas in search of both new jobs and new vacation spots; if you were a young male, it was a vehicle in which you could both appear sexy and have sex in.
Today’s generation is defined by the devices they use to search for jobs, find and book vacation spots, and have sex, even if only virtually. An Apple ad campaign famously pitted the nerdy Windows guy who couldn’t get laid virtually or otherwise with the cool geek with his Mac who was too busy designing web pages to worry about whether he was getting laid. Which would you rather be?
But now it seems our relationships to our devices is more than just successful branding. Evidently we are having actual relationships — we love our devices, according to this New York Times article by Martin Lindstrom.
When I was a kid all I could dream of was getting my hands on a Playboy centerfold playmate. A fantasy that could never be realized in reality (okay, at least not in my reality). Now it’s the latest iPhone. A fantasy that can be realized by a quick trip to the cell phone kiosk.
But, somehow, I don’t think we’re making progress here.
David Soyka is freelance copywriter who has conceptualized and developed a range of strategic advertising, marketing, training, and technical communications for advertising agencies and Fortune 1000 companies in print, web, and broadcast formats. A former newspaper reporter and English teacher, he is a published author of ficiton and non-fiction, and a DJ at WTJU-FM. Find him online here.
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