Way back during the 1928 Presidential campaign, the Republican party released an ad promoting candidate Herbert Hoover that promised "a chicken in every pot and a car in every backyard, to boot."
Hoover ended up winning the election, but shortly after taking the oath of office was derailed by an economic downturn known as the Great Depression.
The economy recovered, eventually, but then America went off to war that lasted into 1945. After the war ended, the U.S. economy entered a period of growth that was unparalleled. It was during that time that the housing industry wrestled control of the economic narrative from Hoover's promise 20 years earlier, and made homeownership the American Dream. Lenders, Realtors, and builders joined together to promote homeownership among Americans. And boy were they successful. Between 1962 and 2004, the homeownership rate in the U.S. rose to 69% from 62%.
Many economists will argue that the industry was too successful. By putting people into homes who might not have been able to necessarily avoid it, the housing industry may have helped accelerate and exacerbate the Great Recession, which began in 2008.
Maybe it's time that automotive industry step back in and lay claim to the American Dream ideal. Lenders, manufacturers, and dealers could create a campaign aimed at boosting the rate of automotive ownership among Americans. While the number of cars on the road in the U.S. is significant, it could always be higher. A concerted effort could help boost car sale numbers nationwide, a development that's good for everyone involved in the automotive industry.
At the very least, the industry would benefit from coming together to create a common message and marketing platform on which a joint campaign, or individual campaigns from smaller organizations or companies, could be built.
The beauty of the growth of social media is that the technology lends itself so well to branding campaigns like this. A viral video campaign could be started promoting people's stories about buying their first car. A Twitter hashtag like #myfirstcar or #hittingtheopenroad could spread among consumers who share stories.
An industry usually only comes together in response to a crisis or to fight a new regulation or legislation. Being proactive, especially at a time when consumers are finding themselves to be on solid economic footing, would not be a bad thing.
And they can throw in a chicken for good measure, too.