aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Saturday, June 23, 2007
What makes it even worthy of my mention is the selling points: a bigger engine, a new grill, and a new ad campaign. Ford President Mark Fields said on the Today Show just now:
It’s very clear as we look at our lineup going forward that we have to have the right consistent marketing message.... The advantage now is that we have a nameplate that has a lot of awareness.
I’m not a car guy, but the sad shame appears to be that instead of innovating, Ford is diagnosing a marketing problem and simply renaming a car that’s been a market clunker. Ironically, the original Taurus was truly innovative:
The Taurus was a milestone design for both Ford and the entire American automotive industry, as well as a very influential vehicle in the marketplace, with Ford selling nearly 7.5 million examples during its 20 years of production - a longer bestselling run than the original Ford Model T. Between 1992 and 1996, the Taurus was the best-selling car in the United States, even prompting Honda to grow the US version of the Accord to a similar size. The Taurus eventually lost its best-seller status in 1997 to the Toyota Camry.
Many industry experts, including executives at Chrysler and even at Ford, believed that the Taurus was going to be a failure. They thought its design was too advanced for many customers during the eighties. This turned out not to be the case, as the Taurus became a best seller, thus making it a sleeper hit.
Bad to the last drop
San Fran’s Mayor Gavin Newsom is in the news again, this time for an executive order banning city departments from buying bottled water, citing the environmental impact of making, transporting and disposing of the bottles.
Though hardly anyone can detect a difference between tap and bottled water, still we buy it. At a cost of 250 to 10,000 times tap water, sales are growing faster than for carbonated soft drinks. There are no health or nutritional benefits from drinking bottled water over tap water and “tap water is more stringently monitored and tightly regulated than bottled water.”
That from an August 2005 NYTimes OpEd by Tom Stangage, Bad to the last drop, that wholly persuaded me:
Bottled water is undeniably more fashionable and portable than tap water. The practice of carrying a small bottle, pioneered by supermodels, has become commonplace. But despite its association with purity and cleanliness, bottled water is bad for the environment. It is shipped at vast expense from one part of the world to another, is then kept refrigerated before sale, and causes huge numbers of plastic bottles to go into landfills.
Of course, tap water is not so abundant in the developing world. And that is ultimately why I find the illogical enthusiasm for bottled water not simply peculiar, but distasteful. For those of us in the developed world, safe water is now so abundant that we can afford to shun the tap water under our noses, and drink bottled water instead: our choice of water has become a lifestyle option. For many people in the developing world, however, access to water remains a matter of life or death.
More than 2.6 billion people, or more than 40 percent of the world’s population, lack basic sanitation, and more than one billion people lack reliable access to safe drinking water. The World Health Organization estimates that 80 percent of all illness in the world is due to water-borne diseases, and that at any given time, around half of the people in the developing world are suffering from diseases associated with inadequate water or sanitation, which kill around five million people a year.
Widespread illness also makes countries less productive, more dependent on outside aid, and less able to lift themselves out of poverty. One of the main reasons girls do not go to school in many parts of the developing world is that they have to spend so much time fetching water from distant wells.
Clean water could be provided to everyone on earth for an outlay of $1.7 billion a year beyond current spending on water projects, according to the International Water Management Institute. Improving sanitation, which is just as important, would cost a further $9.3 billion per year. This is less than a quarter of global annual spending on bottled water.
I have no objections to people drinking bottled water in the developing world; it is often the only safe supply. But it would surely be better if they had access to safe tap water instead. The logical response, for those of us in the developed world, is to stop spending money on bottled water and to give the money to water charities.