The Hummer Effect

hummerFrom the cellar: originally posted April 21, 2011…Came to mind because it happened to me again in the grocery store parking lot this week.

People say I’m pretty easy-going; not much bugs me.  But here is something that I find slightly annoying—maybe because it happened to me twice this week.  I think there should be a law forbidding Hummers from public parking lots.  If the dimensions of a vehicle cannot fit in a parking space and leave enough room for surrounding vehicles to open their doors, then they shouldn’t be allowed to park.

I think what really got me thinking about this was the question that burns in my mind: why would anyone ever want to own a Hummer anyway?  It gets horrendous gas mileage.  It takes up the entire garage—if it fits in the garage at all.  The suspension has the feel of riding in a school bus.  I just don’t get it; what’s the appeal of having a Hummer?

Then it dawned on me.  The marketing folks at GM hit a homerun when they figured out how to convince people to get a Hummer.  The slogan says it all:  “Hummer—like nothing else.”  Of course, they are right.  It is like nothing else.  Other vehicles market themselves based upon fuel efficiency—Hummer cannot do that.  Other vehicles market themselves on driving comfort—Hummer cannot do that.  Other vehicles market themselves on affordability—Hummer cannot do that.  Other vehicles market themselves on useful features for the everyday commute—Hummer cannot do that.  It is like nothing else.

And so the advertising executives at GM had to figure out how to take a vehicle that rides like a bus, gets terrible gas mileage, has very little to offer in useful features; they doubled the price of what it is actually worth; and they convinced people to buy it.  And they did it.  It’s like nothing else.  Absolute marketing genius.

The point of owning a Hummer is to have something others don’t.  It’s a status symbol.  I don’t have to single out Hummer here.  We all have material items or professional titles or academic degrees that we use as trophy cases.  I’m no different on that score than most of you.  In Mark chapter 12, Jesus chastises the religious leaders for their show of status—they “walk around in flowing robes”…they drive Hummers.  And it happens because an advertising executive who is very good at what he does convinced a certain man and woman back in Genesis chapter 3 to take some fruit—fruit from a tree that was like nothing else—fruit that came loaded with features they certainly did not need.  But they were convinced they needed it.  And now we’re all chasing after Hummers…or whatever.

My apologies to those of you who actually do have a Hummer.  I single you out, but you are no more-or-less duped than the rest of us.  And please park somewhere else.

till next time…

~pastor Tom