Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Full Tank of Freedom: gasoline advertising by Marathon

It happens I pick up examples of "petroliana," materials, not just ephemera like maps, because of how these items illustrate the process of creating the ecosystem necessary to support automobility as the primary transportation mode in the U.S.  The same kind of ecosystem needs to be developed to support sustainable mobility. 

When I worked for a nutrition advocacy group when I first came to DC, I used to say that McDonald's spent more money on advertising in a day than our organization's entire budget.

Similarly, there isn't a lot of spending on print and broadcast advertising to promote walking, biking, and transit, compared to automobile advertising.  Although from time to time I have seen television ads promoting car sharing by Enterprise and Zipcar.  (And of course, sustainable modes are promoted online and through social media.)

What is surprising is the Marathon Oil ad that I saw on tv the other day.  Oil companies used to spend a lot of money promoting their brand, through print, radio, and television advertising, maps and other materials, promotional campaigns, providing visitor travel services, and sponsorship of sports teams (I remember Marathon ads on the Detroit Tigers radio broadcasts I used to listen to more than 40 years ago).

But over the last 30-35 years, with some exceptions (e.g., Mobil's "detergent gasoline," for premium gasoline blends, and convenience store-focused chains like WaWa), today the companies produce little advertising promoting their particularly branded gasoline, because gasoline is mostly seen as a commodity--you buy based on price and convenience--without long-term loyalty to a particular brand.

That's why the Marathon ad sticks out.

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