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Emotive advertising contributing to car-dependent culture

New research published in the latest issue of the ICE’s Municipal Engineer Journal has revealed that emotive car advertising could be contributing to the growing car-dependent culture in the UK.

Researchers from Middlesex University monitored press and television car industry advertising over one year to establish whether it could be influencing youth attitudes towards car travel.

They found that the advertisements primarily focused on the social and emotive rewards of car ownership, rather than the practical, economic or environmental merits, potentially encouraging car-dependency from an early age.

The report states: “Since car dependency is difficult to reverse, policy-makers need to understand why people behave in this way, particularly young people. One possible influence is car advertising. Many car advertisements in the UK deal with personal fantasies rather than practical need. These values could be powerful levers for engaging the attention of young people.”

Honorary editor of the journal Ian Jenkinson commented that manufacturers are likely to claim they are merely building brand loyalty and they do not influence people to use cars in inappropriate situations.

“Similar arguments were once deployed by cigarette manufacturers,” said Jenkinson. 

  •   Abstracts of all papers can be read at

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