February 6, 2003
SUV Ads Might Make Residents Squeamish
A new anti-oil television advertising campaign that is intended to needle the consciousness of fuel-guzzling SUV owners will be making a lot of local residents uncomfortable.
The ads that began airing nationally last month are a parody of President Bush's war-on-drugs campaign. They feature talking heads saying, "Today I helped hijack a plane," and "Today I helped our enemies develop weapons of mass destruction." They end with the tag line: "What is your SUV doing to national security?"
Orange County, the nation's fifth most populous county, nonetheless ranks No. 3 among counties with the highest SUV registration, putting 300,557 of the vehicles on the road last year, according to R.L. Polk & Co., a Detroit auto information supplier. Los Angeles and Cook County, Ill., both with larger populations, top the list. No. 4 is Harris County, Texas, which also exceeds the county in population.
The ads were produced by Laurie David, a trustee of the Natural Resources Defense Council, along with columnist Arianna Huffington, film producer Lawrence Bender and Ariel Emanuel, a partner at Endeavor Talent Agency.
The four call their efforts The Detroit Project, and the aim of the ads is to encourage American car manufacturers to produce hybrid cars such as the Toyota Prius, which use much less fuel than SUVs and get more miles to the gallon. If Americans can use less gas, their thinking goes, then it can decrease its dependence on Saudi Arabian oil. If the country loses a large chunk of the American oil market, then it will have less money to support terrorism.
Their goal is to make SUV owners uncomfortable about their purchase. "The time has come," David said at a forum on energy independence hosted by the American Jewish Congress in December. "Drastic times call for drastic measures." Â