Julie Campoli

An Amazing Feat of Salesmanship

Julie Campoli
An Amazing Feat of Salesmanship
The Self-Driving Car Sales Pitch, On the Media August 30, 2019

The Self-Driving Car Sales Pitch, On the Media August 30, 2019

If you’re wondering what to make of self-driving cars, it’s worthwhile to remember the last time Americans were pitched a vision of transportation utopia. This audio segment of the podcast On the Media draws parallels between 20th century car makers’ and Silicon Valley’s gauzy predictions of seamless movement through congestion-free cities. Historian Peter Norton (Fighting Traffic) explains how advertisers made ordinary people believe they needed something they had never wanted—”to drive anywhere anytime without delay and to have a free parking spot when they arrived.” Emily Badger recounts the fallout from that extremely successful bit of salesmanship.

Watch promotional movies produced by General Motors for the 1939, 1956, and 1964 World Fairs