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When Your Brand Trust (and your airbag) Blows Up in Your Face

The automotive industry has been experiencing a rather bumpy ride lately. The Takata airbag debacle, you know—where shards of hot, metal shrapnel come flying out into the passenger compartment of an accident vehicle, the Volkswagen gas mileage manipulation and the deadly Chevrolet Cobalt, which, by all rights, should probably have just been marketed as the “Chevrolet Coffin.”

It’s enough to make one take public transportation and, while doing so, ask just what the hell is going on here? There hasn’t been this much negative publicity for car manufacturers since the “explosive” Ford Pinto of the 1970s. Are these isolated cases of established brands resting on their laurels, deliberate negligence, high-level corporate conspiracies, cost-cutting at the expense of human life or a case of no one of any competence minding the shop?

The truth is, we may never know exactly what is behind this recent spate of seemingly contagious automotive unraveling, but, whatever the contributing factors may be, one thing is painfully clear: public confidence in the affected brands: principally Honda and Toyota, VW/Audi, and GM (has anyone actually had confidence in GM since it stopped producing the Bel Air anyway?) has eroded to a significant degree.

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Is Vanity Your Dentist’s Favorite Sin?

Can you imagine if your cardiology office began marketing services like pacemaker implantation, angioplasty, EKG and stress testing with ads that implied that they could help make you more physically attractive?

Well, that’s what dentist offices do, and they do it blatantly and with the assistance of the nation’s leading marketing, branding and identity firms. In their marketing, many dental practices emphasize the word “smile” as the major component of what they do, when, in fact, they are treating rather un-sexy maladies such as tooth decay, gingivitis, inflammation, exposed tooth roots, worn enamel and, every child’s (and adult’s) favorite: cavities. But it’s glossy pictures of those gorgeous, late-twenty-something models with perfectly aligned dentition, lounging on inoffensive beige furniture, glowing radiantly for the camera with copy like, “Let us take care of your smile”, “Trust your smile to us”, “Creating beautiful smiles every day”, “Because of your smile, you make life more beautiful”, “3 ways to a more beautiful smile”, “A smile is always in style” and, well, you get the idea.

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Stop Shoving Pink Down My Throat

Did you know that it’s 2016 and we’re still yammering on about painting our little girls’ nurseries pink? Or apologizing for not doing it? “Well, I just don’t believe in gender-assigning/policing/stereotyping/pandering, so…” Why is this conversation even happening today? Where did “pink is for girls” even come from? Is it is old as the 1800s? Maybe, but it is kind of hard to know exactly what color this little girl is adorned in, isn’t it?

In actual fact, in 1918, it was Ladies Home Journal that advised parents (mothers, actually) to dress their boys in blue and their girls in pink. Why?

“Pink, being a more decided and stronger color, is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl."

Just a couple decades later, clothing manufactures began asserting the reverse preference, and this was quickly adopted by the Stepford Wives of America who are only too willing to acknowledge the moral and textile authority of retailers and other purveyors of cloth and linen designed for infants and children.  

While it is true that there are some independently thoughtful women out there who understand that pink is just one color available to them and their XX-chromosome offspring, the intensely “pink marketing” of Victoria’s Secret, the Susan G.

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