Behold the Buick Rainier, named after the snow-covered peak southwest of Seattle. Why did Buick decide to call this vehicle the Rainier? Because, says the car company, it "reflects majesty with ruggedness and independence." We'll be needing a heck of a lot of ruggedness and independence to deal with global warming and peak oil, but those qualities won't be coming at us out of the tailpipe of the Buick Rainier.
Naming an SUV after a natural feature is a bit like calling a brand of cigarettes the Healthy Lung. According to the Sierra Club SUVs "spew out 43% more global-warming pollution and 47% more air pollution than an average car." http://sierraclub.org/globalwarming/SUVreport .
Buick's Rainier is helping trash the real Rainier.
Because cars are destroying the rugged and majestic places that their makers have named them for, some jurisdictions are trying to rein in the deceitful garbage that auto makers throw at the public. For example, Norway's advertising watchdog issued guidelines last year to discourage the use of the the following words in connection with cars: green, clean, natural, and environmentally friendly. The rationale was simple -- by definition, cars are none of those things.
In the U.K. the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) banned a Lexus ad that used this headline: "High Performance. Low Emissions. Zero Guilt." The ASA said that the ad misleadingly implied that the car caused little or no damage to the environment.
I'm all for freedom of expression. But I'm also in favor of holding accountable those lying, polluting, climate-wrecking corporations that stand between us and a healthy, sustainable, democratic society. The same goes for the bought-and-paid-for political hacks who do their bidding in state houses and executive mansions across the country.
So let's have a contest to see who can find the most misleading motor-vehicle ad. Keep your eyes open for TV commercials, online ads and print ads that use images of the environment to promote their environmentally-damaging products. Send me the image and, in a token nod toward democratic ideals, we'll have a vote right here on the Vickery Voice site.
This is quite a challenge. There are plenty of car companies that are plumbing the depths of deceit, so coming up with the worst of the worst will take some time and discernment. Good luck out there.
P.S. If you're hoping for a prize, please don't hold your breath.