Jeep’s nod to McLuhan

Jeep’s new advertising campaign is built around a somewhat cryptic slogan: “The Things We Make, Make Us.”

The slogan is at once inspiring — in order to become better, we need to make better things — and scary — look around … are we really becoming “better”?

It’s also a rip-off (or homage, depending on where you sit). Marshall McLuhan said basically the same thing 47 years ago.

In his 1964 book Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, McLuhan wrote “We shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us.”

It’s a whole nod to technological determinism.

McLuhan would probably laugh at the most recent paraphrase, though. After all, in the same book he noted that “Art is anything you can get away with.”



3 thoughts on “Jeep’s nod to McLuhan

  1. “The Things We Make, Make Us.” That sounds like the cheesy tagline to Maximum Overdrive 2, or some other post apocalyptic movie where machines take over (Terminator; i,ROBOT) and perhaps enslave humans, until a small resistance group fights back and blows up all the machines. Of course it would end with everyone realizing how much better they are without all the machines, harkening back to a simpler time (without being too preachy James Cameron!). I don’t know what got into me to make me write so much about this, I guess the jeep made me do it.

    • I like it, Nate! Thanks for reading. I always think of that scene in the second Matrix where Neo is talking with the leader of Zion … I don’t really remember what they said. I think I was sleeping at the time … but it had something to do with the symbiotic relationship between humans and machines.

  2. Another fine article you have written sir. I am not familiar with the McLuhan quote or the book, but am very familiar with the movie quotes. In today’s society, we do place a value on the tools we surround ourselves, so as in the jeep commercial, it is helping us define ourselves, which while valid, in a lot of cases represents a very shallow definition.

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