Wed 05

Stochastic Road Murder

What Max Reckons A similar ad for a Ram 1500 truck with the tag line, EATS UTES FOR BREAKFAST

The free market is great and all, but I do have an issue with this part, where companies promote 2.5-ton urban assault vehicles to people who can be talked into dropping $100,000 by telling them it’s big.

That’s the tag line on a billboard I passed on Sunday, my daughter in the car, the L plates up, as she learns to drive. “IT’S BIG,” says the billboard, that’s the whole tagline, and the Ford F150 is all grille, as seen from the perspective of someone small who’s about to go under the wheels.

Not that the tray is big, or the mileage is big, oh no! Those would be rational arguments, and it’s all emotional appeals for these cars, like “EATS OTHER CARS FOR BREAKFAST,” that’s another one.

I’m a very reasonable person, so I don’t want to ban big cars. I just think we should start jailing marketing people who decide the target market for steroid trucks is irrational people. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying the marketing people are personally running down kids in the streets. They just may as well be. Either click Send on your creatives, or trot on down to street level and take a baseball bat to a pedestrian; either way, you’re going to cause a predictable level of harm.

It’s simple economics: Capitalism demands that we jail those marketers. It’s not a morality issue. Maybe you’re fine with a few broken bodies in the service of letting fragile men feel alpha, and, well, okay, but the free market demands we correctly allocate costs to those who produce them. So if we’re rewarding marketers with bags of cash for putting murder cars in the hands of the people we absolutely least want to have murder cars, we must also present them with the invoice for the ensuing pedestrian bodies.

It’s about setting correct market incentives. You wouldn’t even have to jail that many marketing people. Well, maybe you would. To send a message. But I think even a few marketing people in jail, or, you know, heavily fined, or publicly humiliated, all those are good, would be enough to insert a little pause into a marketing exec’s thoughts. Just a little pause, right after: “I love the simple emotive pull of this ‘LEAVES OTHER ROAD USERS FOR DEAD’ campaign, that’ll speak clearly to dudes who perceive lane changes as personal attacks.” Let’s see where that pause gets us.


This is where site members post comments. If you're not a member, you can join here. There are all kinds of benefits, including moral superiority!

George Weinstein (#8426)

Location: Georgia, US
Quote: "Satire is the best defense"
Posted: 418 days ago

Thank you for this post1 This puts me in mind of one of the wonderful commercial sendups in the original Robocop, with the 6000 SUX:

Matthew (#6407)

Location: Perth
Posted: 418 days ago

Learning to drive?? I remember the blog posts where she was an infant!

Radiatia (#6360)

Location: Christchurch, New Zealand
Posted: 417 days ago

I wholeheartedly agree about jailing people who market those vehicles, although I am rather enticed by the promise on the advert you've displayed that it 'Eats utes for breakfast'.

I have a pretty passionate hatred of utes and ute drivers. I've never once seen them indicate (I assume the indicator is purely decorative, as a design choice), or obey the speed the limit and it's rare when they stop at red lights. I've also been in two car accidents both caused by idiots driving utes like sportscars.

So the promise of a larger vehicle that eats them for breakfast (possibly as a fuel source, the ad was unclear) is appealing to me. I quite fancy the idea of driving around in a large metal behemoth, preying on all the double-parked utes I see blocking central city roads, their confused drivers screaming in terror as they disappear into the maw of my machine, as unable to process the experience as they are able to understand how to make that blinking yellow light appear when you turn.

On a related note, there's an SUV television advert in New Zealand featuring a woman driving like an idiot and then causing an entire cliff to collapse with her vehicle and I found that ad rather apposite: SUV drivers are famously socially irresponsible and the collapse of the cliff is probably a subtle nod by the marketing team toward the damage they know their product does to the environment.

Machine Man subscriber Max

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Quote: "I'm my number one fan!"
Posted: 417 days ago

Ha, I'd forgotten that Robocop commercial.

@Matthew: I know, right, she's turning 18 this year.

@Radiatia: Yes, this is good thinking, although then we need something that eats these even larger cars for breakfast...

Shoe (#4776)

Location: D.C. Suburb
Quote: "“The universe is made of stories, not atoms.” —Muriel Rukeyser"
Posted: 417 days ago

Well...first, I really have to comment on the sexism. This is definitely not just men!

Some years back a woman in a big SUV ran the red signal at the left turn lane and plowed into me at 50mph, broadsiding me and I'll spare you the details, suffice to say it was BAD to get hit by an SUV.

And second, yes, fully agree: suggesting that driving an SUV is some kind of license to kill or attack others should definitely be illegal, just like any other kind of ad that suggested to kill a specific group would be illegal.

Just that this target population is everyone who isn't in a big vehicle.

YourOtherRight (#5755)

Location: eugene, oregon
Quote: "nasty, brutish, and short"
Posted: 417 days ago

I have to preface this by admitting I'm in the US. (I know, and I'm sorry.)

When I saw, "Eats Utes for Breakfast," I immediately thought of the University of Utah, which calls its athletic teams the Utes. The Utes are one of the indigenous people of the US Southwest.

Utah is best known for its large population of Mormons, who have some pretty wacky ideas about Native Americans. Beyond the usual massacres, indoctrination and discrimination, they threw in a side of enslavement.


Altho I now understand the Australian use, I appreciate that the ad works for the US as well.

Always enjoy reading anything you write, Max. Keep it up! And good luck with the driving lessons.

Randy (#5516)

Location: [email protected]
Quote: "I eat random lint"
Posted: 417 days ago

I'm from Texas, and I'm not sorry about that at all. I have lived in cities all my life, and even in the densest parts of Texas cities, trucks rule the road, it's just part of the culture. When a truck gets in an accident (or even two trucks) it's just considered a collision. I also don't own a car, and as such bike or bus everywhere. I can say from daily experience that truck owners are either some of the most entitled people, or the most thoughtless of the heard. That said, a sedan can kill a cyclist or pedestrian just as easily as a truck. Also, every bit of automobile or ev marketing is asinine in my opinion, and auto engineering follows suit. Instead of making cars favor mpg or kpl manufacturers will consider that only as a partner to 0-60 time off the line as ultimately young consumers will likely buy a car that's too expensive based on acceleration time rather than fuel consumption. People take on the personality of their vehicle as soon as they sit in the driver seat. If it seems indestructable that's how they treat everyone on the road, if it seems like the fast and the furious, they perceive all others as slow. Entitlement is what they are selling, and most of us are buying it, all of it.

Jeff Rose-Martland (#5675)

Location: Newfoundland
Quote: "“All statements are true in some sense, false in some sense, meaningless in some sense, true and false in some sense, true and meaningless in some sense, false and meaningless in some sense, and true and false and meaningless in some sense.” "
Posted: 391 days ago

I'm afraid it goes even beyond the marketing people [though they belong up against the wall with the rest]. Here in Canada [& US], every manufacturer has a MASSIVE truck that are designed and sold to men compensating for lack of... things. They even sell testicles for them [see:]. These are not workhorses; they have full leather, chrome, every option under the sun, and come with massive engines and road clearances... and they are never hauling anything, unless it's a a) a luxury 'camping' trailer like movie stars use on set or b) a tiny trailer with an off-road fun vehicle. You never see them covered in mud. Their exteriors are gleaming, all the better to bounce the 5 gazillion-watt lamps into your rearview mirror.

I grew up working construction, and fully understand the need for big trucks for work. But these aren't work trucks. They're toy-for-big-boys [some retailers even use that as their slogan.] They are designed, engineered, built, and marketed to people with more money than sense so they can scare people in traffic. No sensible person would own a F-350 to drive around in city traffic, especially if they had to parallel park, and most especially at $2+/L for diesel [local prices may differ].

There was s suggestion by Canada's government back in the early years of this century that sale of these vehicles could be restricted to commercial use only. That never went anywhere because people who own these vehicles shout loud at the thought that someone else's rights might come before their fun. [see also: gun owners] If you want a really good look at that mentality at work, search any videos related to the Freedom Convoy in Canada. Anything that wasn't a big rig was a stupid-ass big truck.

Now I know not every truck owner is like that. I am friends with some of them. But after being deliberately targeted by such vehicles for road-bullying while I drove my Astra, something needs to be done. Like perhaps anyone wanting a big truck can have one, but everyone in a sub-compact gets .50 cal cannons and rocket-launchers as standard equipment, along with permission to use them.

P.S.: as electric vehicles take over, these truck owners are whining more and more about how soon they won't have their big-ass climate and people killers. Since automakers are massively important industries in North America, I had been anticipating lots of political debates over this. Happily,automakers are taking the even longer view that they can't make money if we're all dead, and so are rapidly switching to EVs. Soon, hopefully very soon, the big ass trucks and SUVs won't be available, period. Or the fuel will be so expensive that they stay parked.

Comments are now closed for this post.