News reports that the Victoria (Australia) Police, are using a Hummer as part of their community building strategy demonstrates that the police are completely out of touch with their role as community leaders. Take a look at their Hummer’s advertising campaign – the tag, “Now Get Lost”, combined with a massive grill image viewed from underneath (giving the impression of height and power) feeds into the arrogance and a complete focus on individual self-interest that the Hummer represents. The Hummer is one of the most definitive symbols of the conceited, self-indulgent, and egotistical nature of individualism and economic rationalism.
As other bloggers have noted, the Hummer is a car for bullies, and it is incredibly clear that the use of the tag-line, “Now Get Lost” was clever marketing to the target audience – one could argue that it was a form of “dog-whistling“, although there is little subtlety in the tag, even though GM argue that the slogan is irreverant. Government bodies have a responsibility to be more aware of the broader ramifications of adopting a product with such strong symbolism, particularly as they argue that they are doing it as a means to foster relationships with the community. I agree with Greens MP Colleen Hartland when she says, that the Hummer is “…such a symbol of war to start with and a symbol of aggression. They don’t say anything to me about community relations, and they are an environmental disaster.”
The slogan, and the car, is a good example of our need to belong, our need to be noticed, and our need to be seen as important. The Hummer is very much a car that symbolises excess and power, and the target market for this car would see these as positive attributes. The marketing approach of Hummer is simplistic, but it works, and fairly bluntly appeals to the ego of its target market.
An interesting bit of trivia is that the “bad guys” in the TV series, Big Love, drive around in Hummers – although all the characters seem to be driving around in massive cars…