Winter Wonderland

Here in Canada, it occasionally snows.  It’s been a fairly regular occurrence for the last 50 or 60 million years.  It’s pretty safe to assume, even with global warming, that we can expect to see snow every winter in the foreseeable future.  Why then, can people not LEARN TO DRIVE on snowy streets?  Here’s a photo from today’s paper:


As you can see by looking at the cars’ tires, despite being reported as a “heavy” snowfall, there are only a few centimetres of snow on the ground.  Hardly enough to cause a problem for anyone with snow tires and minimal knowledge of how to drive in snow.

I posted about this on Facebook last night, and my friend Craig sent this video by Rick Mercer ranting on the subject, so I’m obviously not alone in my dismay that we, as a nation, seem to be just as dumb as the Californians who build their million dollar homes on hillsides that are completely covered with a type of plant that burns up every few years as part of its natural lifecycle.  Or people who settle in flood plains.  What are we/they thinking?

As always, when I have these little rants, I (tenuously) tie it back to the marketing theme by reminding all marketers that people are not rational.



3 Responses to “Winter Wonderland”

  1. netdud Says:

    We’ve had snow for millions of years, and for decades we’ve been driving vehicles that require specialised knowledge and equipment to operate in the snow.

    – Why do people keep buying vehicles without knowing how to operate them in the environment for which they bought them?

    Or conversely:
    – Given that people have always had problems operating vehicles in winter conditions–for whatever reasons, be they driver incompetence or poor design–why have vehicles, in the main, NOT improved at handling winter conditions?

    We have longer lasting, lower maintenance, better handling, higher capacity vehicles than ever. They handle crashes better, they hold more groceries, they have more cup holders, bigger stereos, traction control, ABS, a place to plug in your cell phone, a button to push to find out where to go, and they can be painted any colour.

    And yet, you still need to go somewhere and learn special stuff in order to be able to operate them properly for at least three months out of the year.

    Why is it so rare, in a climate like ours, for anyone to design or MARKET their vehicles based on the ability to do the task the vehicle will be required to do a large percentage of the time?

    Why is it so rare for anyone who sells these vehicles to package and MARKET value-added services like training on how to use the vehicle properly?

    Why do manufacturers instead try to MARKET their vehicles by showing the things the vehicle either can’t do (*or can ONLY do on a closed course with a professional driver), or the extremes of its capacity?

    Why would anyone who manufacturers and MARKETS a vehicle with the intention of competing based on price, provides NO unique value-add, and ignores the basic functionality of the product from a user perspective expect long-term success?

    Why is it so easy to replace the word “vehicle” with the word “technology” in most of these questions?

    I am NOT saying that it is the job of manufacturers and marketers to look out for the safety of their customers. I AM saying that quite often there are marketing opportunities hidden in the things that piss a lot of people off.

    I will trade you my backseat cupholder, AND/OR the ability to drop two tons of pig poop in the bed of my truck, AND/OR 5 standard colour schemes AND/OR .5 of a second to 100KPH for a car that is 10% better in the snow than the other guy’s.

    As always, when I have these little rants, I remind you that marketers are people too.

  2. Clayton Says:

    “Why is it so rare, in a climate like ours, for anyone to design or MARKET their vehicles based on the ability to do the task the vehicle will be required to do a large percentage of the time?”

    Because the majority of people people buy cars on emotion not on practicality.

    Winter driving is not enough of a market to be worth while for manufacturer’s to market to. People don’t want to be reminded of the the 3 to 5 months of hell that they will be driving in each year in some regions. They’d rather see themselves in the new car at the beach.

    However, the marketing you describe is the approach taken to sell snow tires. So it works on smaller ticket items, but probably not so much on the car itself.

  3. netdud Says:

    Winter driving certainly isn’t sexy or fun, but neither are crash ratings, seven seats, lights that aim around corners, cameras that show you where to park, the ability to fit four sweaty construction workers in a vehicle with you, or fuel efficiency, and all of those have been spun into ads by the same car companies.

    OK–I’ll admit that the camera thing is kind of sexy.

    But regardless of the feature they sell, every one of those ads were still written to hit the emotional buy button. That button gets pushed just as hard by a Land Rover ad showing a search for a lost dog in the rain, or mom dropping the team off safely at soccer, or slow-motion crash-test footage, as by watching a bunch of manly, manly men drive pickups through a wall of CGI fire.

    It just seems odd that winter driving got left out of the mix. It writes itself–a bunch of shots like the one in Stephen’s post, a confident-looking underwear-model person wailing along in their “Hupmobile Cannes XR-s” past a line of immobile Brand X users, pulling into the empty parking garage and heading into the nice-looking elevator. VO sez “What’s the point of a corner office if you can’t get there?” Doors close. Overlay “Now offering minus 10% financing and a backrub if someone will just BUY one of these damn things before we burn through the bailout money.”

    Or Mom driving past the carnage to drop the team off at hockey. Or to meet four sweaty construction workers…

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