Automobile’s Contribution to Identity in America Essay

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The Automobile’s Contribution to Identity in America: Nostalgia, Nationalism and Status

Introduction
Over one billion cars have been manufactured world-wide in the past century, with nearly 700 million on the road today (Urry, 2006). As important as flight, computers, and mass communication, the automobile has been a key contributor to the growth and globalization of our world (Sheller, 2000). While the automobile is rarely the topic of sociological discussion and cultural study, this article will discuss the iconicism of the automobile and how it contributes to an individual’s identity.
For some this is the Volkswagen Beetle – a car that embodies nostalgia and the by-gone era of the 60’s (Wilson, 2005). For others, the identity is
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During the post World War II years, the Volkswagen beetle fulfilled the niche market of being small and affordable (Vanden Bergh, 1992). Some would say exploiting the Beetle as a marketing icon has catapulted the entire fleet of Volkswagens into popularity after a slump in sales during the 1980’s and early 1990’s (Kiley, 2002). Playing on American’s love affair with the retro-culture, the new beetle’s popularity has soared.
Not to be outdone by the popularity and retro-culture of the new beetle, the vintage automobile still holds its place in societal imagination (Wilson, 2005). The draw of the Beetle was deemed lucrative enough in today’s marketplace and young movie audiences in summer, 2005, when the new release of Walt Disney Picture’s film “Herbie Fully Loaded”, grossed over $60 Million in US box office receipts (IMDB, 2005).
Other businesses have recognized the power of the Volkswagen Beetle as an icon, and only the very intrepid have embraced it into their business model. In 2003 Apple, known for its individuality and cutting-edge, alternative computers, worked hand in hand with
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Volkswagen to create a powerful media image and ad campaign to sell both the new Beetle and iPods to a younger, newer crowd. Today’s youthful generation not only demands the latest technology, but also enjoys the nostalgia of the past that the Volkswagen incites.
"Apple's audience is a lot like our audience,"

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