"Like Nothing Else": Warfare Marketing of the Hummer H3 (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2006)

Hummer Grabs Limelight at Open Air Demo.

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by Ryan Jordan | 2006-08-09 03:00:00-06

Silhouetted against the backdrop of the ragged Wasatch Front, home to some of the finest backcountry skiing and hiking in the United States, as part of the Outdoor Industry's most dramatic gathering of businessmen and product buyers interested in gear related to human powered sports, something different is here.

A Hummer.

If you like, you can test drive one.

And Hummer will donate $20 to Tread Lightly if you do.

Sounds worthy.

Tread Lightly has a name that invokes positive emotion from any hiker and they have a cute cartoon squirrel for a mascot.

And any similarity to the type of environmental stewardship we're interested in pretty much stops there.

Because "Tread" has nothing to do with walking.

That squirrel drives a four wheeler, pours gasoline over its cereal, and digs ruts for recreation.

Tread Lightly counts among their corporate sponsors:

  • American Motorcyclist Association
  • American Suzuki Motor Corporation
  • ARB 4x4 Accessories
  • Arctic Cat, Inc.
  • Aston Martin Jaguar Land Rover
  • BF Goodrich Tires

Let's stop there. The list is long. View them all here.

Oh, and I almost forgot. Hummer. So back to Hummer.

Right, so test drive a Hummer at ORSM'06 and you essentially fund an organization hell bent on promoting motorized recreation on public lands.

That's just friggin' great. Welcome to the new face of the Outdoor Industry Association.

Hummer, of course, defends itself.

Nick Richards (Hummer's communications manager and apparently, chief pimp of environmental education) said in the Salt Lake Tribune this morning that Hummer seeks the active lifestyle market represented by many of us.

I bet they do.

Nothing like seeing one of the grossest symbols of American frivolity waltz up a jeep trail to a remote trailhead and spill out five ultralight backpackers out to commune with nature, eh?

Who invited these guys?

Clearly, OR let them in the door. But rumor has it that the formal invite was extended by Outside magazine. Hummer, after all, is certainly one of their major advertisers. Outside's CPEE Josephine Parr said "Hummer brings another dimension to the show".

Right.

A dimension that fools people into thinking that Hummer actually has something to contribute to the long term health of the Outdoor Industry by funding an organization with a recreational use agenda dominated by motorized vehicle use.

Also in the Tribune article, kayak maker Pyranha's Dick Good said "If they [Hummer hammerers] are so worried, why did we all fly to Salt Lake City and make this 45-minute drive from Salt Lake up here?"

See Dick run...

...From the very core of our industry's passion that allows him to even sell his products. Don't believe me? Then read the marketing B.S. that graces the Pyranha home page. Catch phrases like "not just another...company" and "we're the same now as we were 30 years ago" etc.

I don't have a problem with SUV's per se. One can responsibly use the right tool for the job, right? After all, we do need some means of getting to the trailhead, and in some cases, those trailheads are remote and travel over rough roads. Trucks, and SUV's, can get us there.

Ironically, however, the number of large truck and SUV owners that actually use their SUV's to go to places that require a huge, high-clearance vehicle, is abysmally small.

Does a housewife need a Suburban to run her child to and from soccer practice?

Does a visitor on a driving tour of the National Parks really need a supercab truck to do it?

Do we need a vehicle that spends $100 in gasoline to make the 300-mile round trip from the city up a well-maintained road to a Sierra trailhead?

What the Outdoor Industry Association, Outdoor Retailer, Outside magazine, and Hummer have done this year is take eyes off of human powered sports with this absurd and knowingly controversial move, contributed to the national agenda of motorized vehicle use on public lands, and thus have placed a desire for short term sensationalism over the desire for long term industry health.

Choices must be made at a fundamental, personal level if we are to make a difference. The environmental damage and other costs of the recent BP pipeline failure on Alaska's North Slope dictates that our dependence on petroleum energy is unavoidable. As much as we'd like to, BPL Staff can't walk to SLC. Nor can we carpool, as we're too far distributed around the country. But while we're here, we'll do what we can. We'll carpool to and from our hotel (five of us folks in a compact car at 34 MPG), we'll take the shuttle to Willard Bay for the Open Air Demo, and we'll use our hotel towels for a few days. Small measures, for sure, but taken with some sensitivity to personal responsibility. We'll do our best to tread lightly while we're here.

And we won't demo drive the Hummer.


Citation

""Like Nothing Else": Warfare Marketing of the Hummer H3 (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2006)," by Ryan Jordan. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/hummer_orsm2006.html, 2006-08-09 03:00:00-06.

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"Like Nothing Else": Warfare Marketing of the Hummer H3 (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2006)
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Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
"Like Nothing Else": Warfare Marketing of the Hummer H3 (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2006) on 08/09/2006 14:26:44 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

"Like Nothing Else": Warfare Marketing of the Hummer H3 (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2006)

Michael Church
(machurch) - F - M
Outside/Hummer, etc. on 08/09/2006 19:36:22 MDT Print View

For the past several years, Outside magazine has been steadily pulling away from its roots, and now it has really gone all the way. It has been several years since I have read Outside, and now it looks like I never will read their magazine again. I sincerely hope most of the people at the Outdoor Retailer show aren't into this stuff. If they are, the future of our wilderness and outdoor recreation in general is in real danger.

Peter McDonough
(crazypete) - F

Locale: Above the Divided Line
Hummer on 08/09/2006 22:15:50 MDT Print View

Hell yeaaaahhhh!!!!! I drive a Jeep Wrangler and I loooove that car!! Who doesn't like tearing through mud and up 4WD trails?? Its manly and its fun---just like ultralight backpacking...

Oh and Ryan---its called the free market---if someone wants to spend a $100 to go to the grocery store, they may be a moron, but I dang well will defend to the death their right to choose with their own mind and not have the government make our choices for us. That would be socialism--and we all know how wonderfully THAT works...

Edited by ryan on 08/09/2006 22:58:12 MDT.

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Re: Hummer on 08/09/2006 22:57:50 MDT Print View

I rode dirt bikes for years. Was it fun, heck ya. If I got on a dirt bike today, would it still be fun? Oh heck ya!

Do I want to retain the choice to exercise my right to ride a dirt bike? Yup.

Will I exercise that right?

That's the core issue at stake.

Neil Bender
(nebender) - F
Re: Free market on 08/09/2006 23:15:40 MDT Print View

Critiques of people's market choices based on some supposed objective baseline of "need" certainly do start to smack of the tongue wagging of socialists and other interventionist do-gooders. I'd like to think Ryan's critique was intended to be an aesthetic argument(and therefore admittedly subjective) rather than an economic position.

The Hummer H3 is inappropriate (poor capability) even for its marketed offroad abilities. For serious backcountry access a small format Jeep or for real manliness a Pinzgauer can slowly creep into amazingly intimidating terrain. Fortunately most SUV buyers are more interested in highway protection in accidents than tearing up the boonies. Hummers largely fill a psychological (neurotic) need moreso than a physical need. Image is a marketable commodity because it's easy.

Real men drive mini-vans; they're practically invisible to traffic cops.

Brett .
(Brett1234) - F

Locale: CA
Please refrain from environmental editorials on 08/10/2006 00:54:45 MDT Print View

And stick to what you guys do better than anyone, discussions of lightweight backpacking. I agree Hummers are extremely inefficient, but that is a subject for another website, indeed. Thank you.

Nancy Kline
(nakline) - F
Nothing else on 08/10/2006 06:28:46 MDT Print View

Without environmentalism, protection and preservation of wild places, there would be no backpacking through the wilderness, it wouldn't exist. You could backpack through the newest mall, or the wasteland that once was a forrest. How could backpacking or any nature recreation be a seperate issue? How is any human action not related to the whole human experience? This is a major problem with our culture, we compartmentalize so we don't have to be aware of how our spending $100 dollars, or rather what spending that much on driving 300 miles means, contributes to global warming and thereby the destruction of environment. There is no do-good subjective interpretation of what is happening to our world. There is not one, NOT ONE, climate scientist who does not believe that global warming, caused primarily by the burning of fossil fuels, does not pose a critical and imminent danger to life on earth. All life, not just our selfish human life.

How can anyone say that driving trough the wild places at 50 or 60 miles an hour on their ATV, snowmobile, dirt bike, motorboat, or Jeep is about the enjoyment of nature. No, it isn't manly. It is a juvenile testosterone rampage, a *BEEP* all over nature, scaring the *BEEP* out of every living thing in it's path, leaving destruction and traces of oil and gas in it's wake. With this kind of "enjoyment" of nature, all our wilderness places will be very tired and worn in no time. Manly would be the wisdom of living in harmony with the flora and fauna of nature, and they aren't just beautiful to watch, their function is to help nature work, to keep it in balance. I am all for having wilderness areas be inconvenient to get to, maybe they will last longer. With the rise in population, even these areas are going to be loved to death pretty soon.

kevin roberge
(robergekj5) - F
Some thoughts on 08/10/2006 06:37:15 MDT Print View

Some thoughts:

Remember that Jordan indicates that its reasonable to own a jeep or a truck or what not to use in a wilderness setting, he's not condeming them outright. It seems as though he thought it was inappropriate to market a Hummer at this particular event. Context is important.

Perhaps Jordan is struggling with an age old pseudo paradox of the outdoorsman. Many folks would claim to love the outdoors, but in reality they don't, they love the 'idea' of the outdoors. Oh, they like to go outdoors, but like to have roads there, cleared campsites, really cool gear to bring, and like to have cities to go home to. This does not characterize everyone, but essentially the outdoors is a theme park for many people. They view it as a product, something to use whether its for photography, off roading, fishing & Hunting or what not. They're peak baggers, mileage braggarts, and accomplishment boasters. Many are not going to revel in the beauty of a fern or pleasant meadow.

One final note: There's nothing particularly manly about off roading, mudding or dirt biking. There are many talented women in that genre. Let's not defend our hobbies under the guise of masculinity.

kevin roberge
(robergekj5) - F
A eco-political note on 08/10/2006 06:44:29 MDT Print View

Just one final note: This country is in fact not simply a free market. We all enjoy many aspects of socialism. Libraries, public schools, roads, fire depts., police depts. welfare, health insurance for the poor and elderly, government grants for research, anti-trust regulations etc.

Its always amusing to me to hear modern folks proclaim the greatness of a free market economy, something that they have never known. A very cursory read over what life was like a century ago (when markets were much more free) indicates how much the common person benefitted, not much. The safety we enjoy today in building codes, clean water, safe food and much more we owe to socialists and unions from over a century ago who fought long and hard for the average american to live a healthy and productive life. Socialism has been an american pastime for over the last hundred years (even more so for the past fifty).

Cheers to socialism

Charles Strusz
(infochuck) - F
Envrionmental editorials on 08/10/2006 10:02:15 MDT Print View

Please do NOT refrain from environmental editorials. We're all supposed to be fnas of the outdoors, and that means preserving it for low-impact use.

Hummers are a blight on the landscape and society. They're for people with feelings of inadequacy and the desire to make themselves safer at the expense of others.

People have the right to buy 'em and drive 'em, and I have the right to ridicule them, flip them off, give them a piece of my mind, give them dirty looks, and tell their children that mommy is making sure the planet they inherit will be much dirtier.

Summit CO
(Summit) - F

Locale: 9300ft
Re: Nothing else on 08/10/2006 10:42:11 MDT Print View

"trough the wild places at 50 or 60 miles an hour on their ATV, snowmobile, dirt bike, motorboat, or Jeep is about the enjoyment of nature. No, it isn't manly. It is a juvenile testosterone rampage, a *BEEP* all over nature," -Nancy Kline

This is typical knowitall type hippie arrogance... you think you are so mature, enlightened, and understanding that if you don't understand an activity or it isn't fun to you, it must be a worthless activity pursued by juvenile people...

Motorized and mechanized outdoor recreation is fun for many people. Those people are not "juvenile" or idiots. They should be responsible and attempt to minimize their impact but your arrogant attitude is that they shouldn't be doing what they are doing because YOU don't see the point.

Let me follow your philosophy...

I own a front wheel drive four door sedan that gets 30mpg. Shoot me because it could be a 2 door since I am single.

I have a crosscountry mountain bike. Gosh, I really should walk. Who could truly enjoy nature from a MTB at 10mph?

I use my friend's snowmobile to for snowmobile assisted backcountry skiing. If I was truly in tune with nautre, I'd be a manly man and skin all day for just a single lap on the same terrain. (Note: I skin most of the time and combine it with the snowmobile assists.)

Scratch that... my AT skis should be banned from wilderness areas... the only way to enjoy nature is at a walking pace with snowshoes or nordic skis. Who could truly commmune with Ullr while ripping through the trees and snow at 30mph?

"With this kind of "enjoyment" of nature, all our wilderness places will be very tired and worn in no time. Manly would be the wisdom of living in harmony with the flora and fauna of nature, and they aren't just beautiful to watch, their function is to help nature work, to keep it in balance." -Nancy Kline

Nobody is talking about Hummers driving inside wilderness areas. The only thing allowed in wilderness areas are pedestrians and (for some reason I still don't get) equestrians.

ETA:
"People have the right to buy 'em and drive 'em, and I have the right to ridicule them, flip them off, give them a piece of my mind, give them dirty looks, and tell their children that mommy is making sure the planet they inherit will be much dirtier." -Charles Sturts

I was with you up until that last phrase. Harrassing their children is way way out of line. While I would never own such a wastefull status symbol as a Hummer, if you started bad mouthing me to my little children, it would be considered assault and I'd knock you on your selfrightous butt. It would be no different than PETA activists telling children that their "mommy and daddy are terrible murderers" and promptly getting their butts handed to them.

Edited by Summit on 08/10/2006 11:02:12 MDT.

pack nwcurt
(curtpeterson) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Missing the point? on 08/10/2006 10:57:38 MDT Print View

It's not about the Hummer or off-road vehicles. It's about the point. Just like Jeep and Suzuki have an obligation to further their interests by advocating for them, human-powered backcountry recreation users have an obligation to advocate their positions and protect their interests.

I read this much more as disappointment that folks that share that obligation - Outside and the OR Show - are failing at it. Personally, I would think it would be shameful if folks at BPL, Backpacker, or backpacking gear manufacturers didn't advocate their positions. Kudos to BPL for doing it.

Unfortunately, it seems there's is less and less of it in the past few years. Obviously the motorized folks get it - they're doing a much better job at it right now. I don't blame them for trying - I blame the outdoor industry for sitting on their asses. Companies that put their money where their mouth is like Patagonia and Granite Gear are too few and far between.

-Curt

Sven Klingemann
(svenklingemann) - F
Humming along on 08/10/2006 12:52:22 MDT Print View

In this great country of ours, we have the freedom to do or not to do many things. And these freedoms are protected by law!
I can legally:
- Choose not to protect the environment
- Ignore those who are in need
- Bother other folks with my smoking
habits
- Advocate heavy backpacking gear
And I will da*m* do as I please, especially if I have fun doing it. And I am so happy that lots of folks spend their money and energy protecting these rights of mine. Where would we end up if some Socialists tried to infringe on my complacent, self-centered life-style? Don't make me think about it. And if you try to dent my Hummer, I will sue you.

Peter McDonough
(crazypete) - F

Locale: Above the Divided Line
Re: A eco-political note on 08/10/2006 13:55:25 MDT Print View

Kevin Roberge--

Your ignorance is typical of the hyperliberal community that support Green Peace, PETA, Amnesty International, and the ACLU.

A free market outperforms the government in nearly all cases due to the face private companies face competition for their products and services, else they will be fired or go out of business. If, however, the government does a poor job, the solution is not to replace them with another company, but to give the bureaucracy more money.

And no, we are not a socialistic economy.

Just to reject allof your points, one by one---

building codes--set as a generally acceptable standard of safety--at the LOCAL, STATE, and less so, federal levels.

clean water--in New Jersey private companies are responsible for the purity of the water supply

libraries-- there are both public and private libraries

roads are part of the infrastructure and a strategic part of national defense(WWII and D Eisenhower)

Anyways--lets look at subsidized corporations that fail miserbly and would have gone bankrupt except for federal assistance.

--Amtrak
--Airbus(owned by france)
--farms
----->>>>PUBLIC SCHOOLS<<<<----

Oh--and there is no consensus on global warming--unless it is from the amount of hot air Mr. Gore blows into the atmosphere...

David Bonn
(david_bonn) - F

Locale: North Cascades
Re: Chill on 08/10/2006 15:32:55 MDT Print View

My reaction to the reaction to the article is I wonder if it is possible to distribute xanax or valium over the internet. Sheesh.

A hummer H3 is offensive to me. Largely because it is designed to look like a macho off-road vehicle, which it isn't -- the original hummers (especially ones without the armor mods) are actually a reasonable off-road vehicle. An H3 is really designed to tell other people in the shopping-mall parking lot, "on weekends I wish I was playing outside."

Oh, I enjoyed the article very much.

Scott Ashdown
(waterloggedwellies) - F

Locale: United Kingdom
Re: Humming along on 08/10/2006 16:03:15 MDT Print View

Hmm, Sven

I'm not sure protesting your "Complacent, self centred, Do a as I da*m* please" approach to life of enviromental degredation, ignoring those in need or bothering other people with your smoke is quite the way to win friends and influence people on the site. Your right to point out freedoms in a democratic society, however, with freedom comes responsibility and I don't see any hint of that in your post, only insulting selfishness.

Sure, if you want to enjoy your Hummer do so but please consider that not everyone will necessarily agree with you.

Jason Smith
(JasonS) - MLife

Locale: Northeast
Humming along on 08/10/2006 17:18:15 MDT Print View

I support and agree with what Ryan is saying.

The use of a SUV risks the lives of others. SUV's are three times as likely as cars to cause a driver fatility in the other car in a two-vehicle collision. SUVs damage the environment through low gas milage.

Sometimes we need to voluntarily give up what we want to do to benifit society as a whole. It's part of being a responsible adult.

Sven - originally missed your last line myself.

Edited by JasonS on 08/10/2006 18:12:07 MDT.

Scott Peterson
(scottalanp) - F

Locale: Northern California
Some Of Us Are Tired on 08/10/2006 17:21:36 MDT Print View

Tired of people being so self-involved that they clearly do not think beyond what's in it for me.

The jokers at Hummer who create these sickening TV ads that show some young guy apparently emasculated in a grocery check-out line because his vegetarian choices have made him feel less-of-a-man compared to the guy behind him who has piles of beef...so he has to run directly to the Hummer lot and BUY his manhood back. They of the marketing ilk at Hummer (or some paid firm) are probably sensible people who would never let a commercial alter their self-perception or their needs...but do it for the cash. And the truly sickening thing is, this kind of imagery works on a lot of people...who again are unable to focus on anything other than how cool I will look with shades on at the stop light in my bright yellow metal box. And I can only laugh harder and harder in judgement as I watch these sharpies driving their extended cab long bed trucks to work in the morning, by themselves, in metropolitan commute traffic!

And once upon a time, while in undergrad econ. classes I too thought that Adam Smith had summed up capitalist reality for eternity with his invisible hand theory, right? Wrong! I am no Socialist. I am a realist. Like marketing guys who want to earn a buck. Or 24 year old, self involved ego dudes, or islamic extremists, people do not think beyond what's in it for me. And with a global economy and population growth that is far beyond anything Adam Smith could have imagined...more and more of our individual rights will have to go away. There is not enough physical space or wealth to keep everyone happy anymore. Now the rules start. And I agree with Ryan that at some point, you have to start to put your finger up at the institutions that seem only interested in encouraging the individuals to do something because it feels good and makes them a ton of profit, in spite of the fact that it is totally detrimental to the overall good of the planet opr it's population or both.

And as a side note, our floundering executives at America's auto manufacturers still do not seem to get the message. With the bell tolling in the background, and Toyota outselling them for the first time ever in the month of July, they decide it's time to bring back the muscle car....a new Camero for 2008. Duh! I suppose it could be off the drawing board by then though if gas moves on up to $4 or $5 a gallon....which is totally plausible.

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: Some Of Us Are Tired on 08/10/2006 17:28:13 MDT Print View

Isn't it amazing. NO ONE IS LISTENING!!!! With global warming on the increase (Well Bush says that it is not...Yeh right) and gas prices going up everyday (and even further now that a pipeline needs to be shut down). Why can't they see that we just need a automobile that is gas efficient, and better for the earth. Stupid people!

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Some Of Us Are Tired on 08/10/2006 17:46:49 MDT Print View

Why don't we have trains to the trail heads? I've thought a lot about a light rail system through the Cascade passes that could be a Summer tour ride (get the tourists to subsidize it you see) it), drop off hikers at trail heads, and be used for a ski train in Winter.

When they look back at our era, our insane attachments to automobiles will be looked upon as a great folly of history.

I'm going to build a machine that kills 40,000 people a year in the US and permantly disables more like 250,000. This machine will get us into strategic wars and insane diplomatic policies, turn our economy upside-down, pollute the air, water and soil, ruin the climate, and make out cities dirty, noisy, barely livable places. What devilish machine is this? The automobile.