The following is a guest blog by Megan Smith of Blue Ocean Institute:
Recently, Land Rover launched an ad campaign (see below) that creates parallels between facts they deem either “useful” or useless.” I realize that many individuals have historically turned to Land Rover regarding matters of utility when facing such conundrums as: “Does this Range Rover come in sage? I’d like to blend into the suburban jungle,” or the age-old question: “Does the LR3 make me look fat?” All are important queries that demand accurate answers and beg thoughtful reflection.
However, Land Rover went way off-road this time–and in the wrong direction too. Their ad reads: “USELESS FACT: Loggerhead Sea Turtles have the amazing ability to navigate across thousands of miles of ocean and return to the exact beach of their birth.” Now for the, ahem, useful fact: “USEFUL FACT: The LR3 Navigation system uses ‘electronic bread crumbs’ to keep you on course, even if your adventure takes you off the map.”
The ad poorly articulates the sheer extent to which Loggerheads exhaust themselves for the greater good of their species. Loggerheads are highly migratory, traveling as much as 7,500 miles in one trip, mostly forgoing food and rest to find the perfect nesting area to proliferate their prehistoric lineage. You won’t see this pioneer interrupt its journey for a bathroom break or make frequent, pricy stops to fill up a greedy gas tank that gets a paltry 12 and 18 miles per gallon. (That’s according to sources other than Land Rover because it’s impossible to find that info on their website.)
Unfortunately, the turtles’ marvelous mobility makes them especially vulnerable to accidental capture in the nets and longlines of the world’s fisheries. In 1978, Loggerheads were placed on the United States Fish & Wildlife Service Endangered Species List as “threatened,” and they remain there today.
In the face of adversity, Loggerheads accomplish their remarkable migrations without “electronic bread crumbs,” MapQuest, or street signs. It is widely thought that they can detect both wave direction and the Earth’s magnetic fields, enabling navigation across the ocean. Meanwhile, some of us can’t find the bathroom light switch at night.
The moral of the story is that the Loggerhead is an amazing living, breathing antiquity. Our existence, and most certainly Land Rover’s, is merely a drop in the bucket of time compared to that of our 100-million-year-old friend, the Loggerhead. So instead of underestimating their customers’ ideas of value, Land Rover should take pause, digest the mysterious beauty and inherent sense of utility of such majestic creatures, and thus, be humbled.
This is what I really think:
Preying on people who are wrought with insecurity about their sense of direction or bravery, Land Rover posits that “limits are for the weak of heart.” They can make you a better person — or at least they can make you appear better, riding high on that four-wheeled throne, transporting dullards who don’t know how to read a map, and essentially rendering any inkling of natural human instinct we have left ultimately impotent. But fear not: while being carted around in this climate-controlled behemoth, this notion will be the last thought on your mind. Instead, you’ll be entirely too preoccupied with the presets on your satellite radio while adjusting the temperature of your heated leather seats.
— Megan Smith, Blue Ocean Institute