Posted by: carlsafina | Tuesday, May 13 08

Useless? Says Who??

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


Land Rover opines about Useless Facts vs. Useful Facts.



  1. Someone needs to stick the makers of LandRover in the middle of the ocean, or even just in the middle of the their neighborhood and see if they can make it home without their “electronic breadcrumbs.” It sounds like some futuristic Hansel and Gretal, only instead of finding a witch, the LandRover drivers find the Oil Industry. Instead of being fattened up with candy, they are being fattened up with OIL! We must be the ones to push LandRover and BIG OIL into the oven. Save the Turtles… EXCELLENT PIECE

  2. great piece meg, you realize as so many do that we really really miss our profound and innate connection to the earth, its rhythms and cycles, so much so that we induce our own original awareness and processes eletronically. but really and truly to little avail, once the power goes out, no breadcrums! now what? moving further and further away from our own 100 of millions of year-old intuition is the wrong move….and turtle remind us that our dna and theirs is essentially identical….

  3. As a former owner of a Landrover, I’m a bit dissapointed with thier recent ad campaign (among other things). Owning a Land Rover truly did enable me to see amazing sections of the country, access hidden wonders, and withstand winter storms and raging rivers- but guess what, it wasn’t the Navigation system that helped me do all those things, it was good solid engineering and a map.
    But things have changed. Rover’s engineers, now working for an American company, have found NO WAY to reduce thier ridiculous gas consumpion, emissions, and breakdown rates. It looks like they’re trying to make up for it by focusing on the truly “useless” things in life in order to make the brand relevant again.
    Now, if I could just get a PZEV hybrid model with a dose of humility, maybe I’d like to jump back on top of one of those snazzy pneumatic suspension systems and go do some wildlife rescue. Perhaps THAT’S something they should put in one of thier ads….

  4. I’m a general manager at a Land Rover franchise in Wilmington, NC. Each year we partner with the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center and use our Land Rovers to transport the rescued Sea Turtles back into the ocean. We also hold annual fund raising events for the foundation. We will be helping in the release of 20 sea turtles into the ocean on the morning of June 3rd, 2008. Cheer with me on that day as they re-enter the ocean…

  5. My kids think driving a car without a TV in it is child abuse. My friends think I’m “adventurous” because I use a Hagstrom map instead of a GPS to navigate the highways and byways of Long Island’s south shore.

    The car is a universe unto itself, and Range Rover simply reinforces the notion that the world outside your vehicle or your backyard is simply not as interesting, luxurious, or valuable as the world you’ve bought and paid for.

  6. my husband just pointed out an (inadvertently) hilarious Land Rover ad .which claims they help out elite military units and international relief orgs (I’m sure that’s true)…. but then they go on” Of course, you don’t need to be transporting drinking water to Zanzibar to drive a Land Rover for yourself.” He points out that a land rover transporting H2O to Zanzibar has a long way to drive…on the ocean floor.

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