If an ad for a hybrid flies overhead at 6a.m. on a holiday, does it have an impact?
On Memorial Day my one-year-old and I went for an early-morning walk. We live in L.A. near Griffith Park, over which slow-moving small aircraft sometimes fly on the weekends, trailing banners with commercial messages behind them. In the quiet of a holiday just after 6:00 a.m., we heard the sound of an aircraft overhead. My daughter is fascinated by flying objects, and we looked up to see what it was.
Imagine my surprise at seeing one of these advertising planes at a time and place when hardly anyone was likely to see it. Imagine further my surprise at seeing that the advertisement was for the new hybrid-car offering from Honda, the Insight.
I drove the Insight at Honda’s press roll-out for the vehicle in December, and in the interest of disclosure I’ll mention here that I used to own a Honda Civic hybrid. The Insight seemed like a fine car, and I’d be happy to drive one; I got about 65 mpg on a 30-minute test route the company had set up around suburban Phoenix (which, when I visited the area about 15 years ago, was then the outskirts of Phoenix—but that’s a different story), and the price and styling of the car are improvements on the Civic hybrid I used to own.
But why was Honda burning fossil fuels for an advertisement few people were likely to see? The only people at Griffith Park that early (in my experience) are the birthday-party pioneers homesteading picnic tables to be used later in the day, and a few joggers.
I understand that emitting some greenhouse gasses now in order to prevent the burning of more greenhouse gasses in the future is a favorable calculation, and it is possible that 6:00 a.m. holiday-morning joggers are among the most likely possible purchasers of hybrid cars. It is also possible that the plane had just taken off from somewhere in the Valley and was headed to the beaches of Venice and Santa Monica, where more potential hybrid-buyers were getting their aerobic workouts.
But it’s also possible this was just a waste of CO2.
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