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Reality Sucks
October 13, 2011 9:38 AM   Subscribe

A "remarkably ill-conceived car ad campaign", General Motors tells students to "stop pedaling. . . start driving". GM backpedaled and pulled the ad, according to ABC news (and others).
posted by Man with Lantern (105 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
Another fine addition to the miles long "WTF they were thinking" list.
Or perhaps GM counts that the additional publicity from the uproar was worth it?
posted by hat_eater at 9:44 AM on October 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Here's a copy of the ad, which is a print ad, and which appears to have been conceived around 1986.
posted by koeselitz at 9:44 AM on October 13, 2011


Maybe they could try the slogan "GM: Still Not Getting It!"
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:45 AM on October 13, 2011 [6 favorites]


(In addition to the unfortunate logo, note the equally-unfortunate image of a poor, embarrassed guy on a cycle, hiding his face from the girls in the car, hoping they don't notice he doesn't own a gas-guzzling machine like they do. For those keeping score at home: anyone who believes that cars will get you laid more than bikes hasn't been to college in the past twenty years.)
posted by koeselitz at 9:46 AM on October 13, 2011 [25 favorites]


General Motors : Building a healthy part of your daily exercise routine."
posted by jeffburdges at 9:47 AM on October 13, 2011


I think he's hiding his face in shame from how badly his bars are taped. I bet he has a squeaky drive train, too.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:48 AM on October 13, 2011 [11 favorites]


Why should they pull the ad? GM sells cars.
posted by swift at 9:48 AM on October 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


GM backpedaled ...

Cute.
posted by octothorpe at 9:48 AM on October 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


For those keeping score at home: anyone who believes that cars will get you laid more than bikes hasn't been to college in the past twenty years.)

I don't know, when I was a sophomore in high school, and my friend Ed tried to set me up with his eighth grade girlfriend's best friend, he was pretty sure that the fact that I had a car was going to get me some action. Sadly, I backed out before I could see what the power of a decade old Taurus over an eighth grader was.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 9:49 AM on October 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ever try to have sex in the backseat of a bicycle?

Not recommended.
posted by Trurl at 9:51 AM on October 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


swift: Why should they pull the ad? GM sells cars.

Oil company commercial: "Isn't it great to buy gallons of gasoline and light it on fire? For no reason? If you do this, people with think you're sexy! We think you should do it, and we'll even give you a discount when you guy the gas!"

Public: "That's a stupid commercial. They shouldn't have made it."

swift: "Why not? They sell gas."
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 9:54 AM on October 13, 2011 [6 favorites]


Riding a bike is a good excuse --the only one, really-- to wear lycra shorts that show off your assets. Just sayin'.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:55 AM on October 13, 2011


Bulgaroktonos: “I don't know, when I was a sophomore in high school, and my friend Ed tried to set me up with his eighth grade girlfriend's best friend, he was pretty sure that the fact that I had a car was going to get me some action. Sadly, I backed out before I could see what the power of a decade old Taurus over an eighth grader was.”

You should see the ad GM came up with for their high school discount.
posted by koeselitz at 9:55 AM on October 13, 2011 [6 favorites]




Why should they pull the ad? GM sells cars.


I see a lucrative future for you in advertising!

Stop eating vegetables! Start Eating McDonalds happy meals!

Don't use matches to light a well-ventilated gas fire! Burn some brightly colored plastic outside!

Don't waste your voice on singing! Shout 'fire' in a crowded theater!
posted by lalochezia at 9:56 AM on October 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Maybe they should make an SUV that looks like a Hummer, but that gets better mileage and advertise it as Hummer Ten - not for women.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 9:57 AM on October 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


swift: "Why not? They sell gas."

Yeah..ya know what...at least it would be honest. I don't see why they should pull this ad. They make cars. They work behind the scenes as hard as they can to continue to influence infrastructure and domestic/foreign policy to enable and drive the market for cars. They should be forced to just say that in their ads instead of couching their true goals in some 'green' bullshit. OR, they should actually commit to a green agenda.
posted by spicynuts at 9:59 AM on October 13, 2011


The expression of utter contempt on the face of the woman in the ad is hilarious.
posted by eugenen at 10:00 AM on October 13, 2011


The real blunder here is that the ad wasn't enough of a throwback. Dude on the bike should have had long hair and a fringed leather vest like the stinking pinko hippie he is. Follow up ad should have a GM half-ton plowing through a yurt or geodesic dome. Photoshop Dick Nixon into it, put him behind the wheel with John Wayne riding shotgun. They should look like Tim Roeloffs collages without the irony.

Yippie-ki-yay, commies! The sixties are back, and this time the Omega House pricks win.
posted by gompa at 10:02 AM on October 13, 2011 [12 favorites]


I agree with swift. They shouldn't pull the ad. In fact, I think it would be wonderful if they didn't pull the ad. Try this ad campaign, GM. Please! See where it gets you.

They pulled the ad because it was marketing suicide.
posted by gurple at 10:02 AM on October 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think some people here would consider any car company trying to sell cars to be evil.
posted by smackfu at 10:02 AM on October 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


"GM backpedaled...."

So, they were riding one of those fixies I hear about???
posted by HuronBob at 10:03 AM on October 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


If you want to see the true face of GM, check out the documentary, Who killed The Electric Car?
posted by Yer-Ol-Pal at 10:04 AM on October 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Riding a bike is a good excuse --the only one, really-- to wear lycra shorts that show off your assets. Just sayin'.

I wear them while fighting crime, myself. It really turns heads. But, you know, whatever works for you.
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:05 AM on October 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Response from Giant Bicycles.
posted by backseatpilot at 10:06 AM on October 13, 2011 [20 favorites]


The response from Giant is quick and good, but they might have been better off not including the "* based on 15k mi/year" bit.

I love my bike, but I'm not going to ride it quite that far this year. These things we're comparing are not both apples.
posted by gurple at 10:10 AM on October 13, 2011


I think some people here would consider any car company trying to sell cars to be evil.

Ding ding ding ding! Game's over, folks, smackfu has won the Slippery Slope Prize. If you oppose one stone-aged, needlessly divisive, tone-deaf GM ad, you are against motor vehicles as an idea. For his efforts, smackfu wins a free ride to work with Toronto Mayor Rob Ford in a Cadillac Escalade with a broken muffler, during which he'll enjoy an incoherent 45-minute rant on the evils of the War on Cars and a free spittle shower, all while stuck in lurching gridlock on the Gardiner Expressway!
posted by gompa at 10:12 AM on October 13, 2011 [6 favorites]


I'll probably do 2500 miles on a bike this year. It's still costing me $0 in gas.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:12 AM on October 13, 2011


Some clever responses on the GM program's Facebook page: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
posted by ryanshepard at 10:12 AM on October 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


but they might have been better off not including the "* based on 15k mi/year" bit.

Holy shit! A parody photo that somebody posted on a Facebook Wall is not entirely factually accurate! Call the internet police!
posted by Threeway Handshake at 10:14 AM on October 13, 2011


If I didn't know better I'd say that some folks would prefer a more subtle advertisement for the same fucking cars, like GM is being too upfront about who their competition is.

GM has no interest in any kind of non-car utopia. Bikes are their enemy.
posted by swift at 10:15 AM on October 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


What did Andy drive in "40 Year Old Virgin"?

Exactly.
posted by dr_dank at 10:15 AM on October 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


As someone else said above, obviously you've not been paying attention to college/20-something culture these days if you think cars will get you laid faster than a bike.
posted by Windigo at 10:18 AM on October 13, 2011


I dunno... I mean, I probably would've pulled the ad too out of a knee-jerk "we're a company and we want EVERYONE to like us" reaction...

But really, from a marketing standpoint they probably should've taken a gamble and let the dice roll. If they left the ad live, considering the target demographic, it'd probably turn into a real world marketing version of a car vs. bike MeFi thread. The staunchest opponents of this ad are probably not the type of people to care what brand of car they buy outside of necessity, and the loudest supporters might have a positive GM brand "feeling" due to their defense and/or dismissal of the supporters' arguments, which is after all, one important point of advertising.
posted by Debaser626 at 10:19 AM on October 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


I think some people here would consider any car company trying to sell cars to be evil.

Selling cars isn't evil per se (we didn't know the problems emissions and fuel use might create down the road when we started off on the car-experiment), but selling cars knowing what we know about the current tech now and not actively working toward ways to minimize their harmful environmental impact is.

I'd agree this commercial is evil. It's evil not because it's trying to sell a car, but because it's manipulatively encouraging an attitude of reckless irresponsibility toward conservation issues and its using social shame (and psychological trickery and manipulation) to try to sell a product. It's callow, superficial, and insulting to the intelligence of its audience, treating them like objects to be manipulated psychologically rather than capable and mature adults capable of making sound decisions for themselves when presented with complete and accurate information.

So, yeah, it's an evil commercial, but not because it's trying to sell cars, but because it's trying to shame and manipulate people into abandoning a more socially healthy behavior for a more socially harmful one in the hope of making an extra buck.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:20 AM on October 13, 2011 [8 favorites]


Holy shit! A parody photo that somebody posted on a Facebook Wall is not entirely factually accurate! Call the internet police!

What? Factually accurate? No, I just think it'd be more effective satire (and advertising) without that bit.
posted by gurple at 10:21 AM on October 13, 2011


correction... due to their defense against and/or dismissal of...
posted by Debaser626 at 10:21 AM on October 13, 2011


I like how they're trying to sell a truck. You can be the cool college student who drives a fucking truck around, like that's a cool and normal thing to do!

(I don't know exactly when it happened, but sometime in the past decade --- among hip, young, urbanites, at least --- driving a car has become one of most desperately uncool things you can do. Everyone HATES hipsters, but at least they would never be caught dead in an SUV.)
posted by Tiresias at 10:22 AM on October 13, 2011


I feel like I'm looking at a back page advertisement from newsweek circa the year I was born. I mean, who even prints an advertisement in black and white anymore?
posted by Think_Long at 10:22 AM on October 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


You guys should have seen the corresponding TV campaign, it was an homage to the end of Easy Rider
posted by entropicamericana at 10:23 AM on October 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


Everybody asks me why I don't drive, and I usually say it's because I get really carsick (which isn't entirely false, I do get really bad motion sickness), but it's actually because I'm terrified of vehicles. I don't like driving, I don't like being a passenger, I don't even like crossing the street (this fear probably arose from my living in a heavily-congested city, where car accidents happen far too frequently, that and I'm also pretty neurotic).

I kind of wish everybody would just ditch cars and start riding bicycles. Or you know, horses and carriages. Or trains. I wish we had a subway system. I'd ultimately feel a lot safer. But that'll never happen because it's not really feasible in many areas of the country.

Anyway, why is there a stigma attached to not driving?
posted by Redfield at 10:23 AM on October 13, 2011


It's callow, superficial, and insulting to the intelligence of its audience, treating them like objects to be manipulated psychologically rather than capable and mature adults capable of making sound decisions for themselves when presented with complete and accurate information.

In other words, it's an advertisement.
posted by swift at 10:23 AM on October 13, 2011 [12 favorites]


I think some people here would consider any car company trying to sell cars to be evil.

Selling cars isn't itself evil. Selling cars at the expense of taxpayer bailout money to reduce bike ridership is pretty dodgy, though. It's not on the scale of eating-babies-evil, granted, but it is still a pretty shitty corporate mindset that allowed this marketing to happen in the first place, and which contributes to having us abuse what oil and reasonable weather we have left.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:24 AM on October 13, 2011


Anyway, why is there a stigma attached to not driving?

Depends where you live and your social circle.

When I lived in North Carolina, if I walked or biked places people assumed I had no car, or that I was too poor for one, or than I had my license yanked.

Here in Chicago, we had a party a few weeks ago with at least 4 bikes stowed by guests in our bedroom (not counting the one in the hallway, the myriad outside...)
posted by Windigo at 10:27 AM on October 13, 2011




Anyway, why is there a stigma attached to not driving?


Up here in Alberta it means that you're poor, mentally handicapped, or a child.
The only acceptable reason for not driving is probably a license suspension due to DUI.
posted by Stagger Lee at 10:34 AM on October 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


Anyway, why is there a stigma attached to not driving?

People at work always gape a little when I tell them that we only have one car between the two of us (the horror!). I probably wouldn't have the one car if my job was in the city. Most of my coworkers drive in from New Hampshire because they believe not having a state sales tax somehow makes their lives infinitely better than living in Boston - never mind all the complaints about traffic, the hour+ commutes in each direction...

It seems to me here that people regard driving as the safe, responsible thing to do. After all, these folks have small children to take care of and towing them around on a trail-a-bike might as well be prosecuted as child endangerment! One of my coworkers specifically mentioned needing to own a large truck (two, actually) because of their small children and the need to be able to get anywhere immediately after a snow storm. They don't live in the backcountry and being the Northeast the cities actually know how to plow streets, so I'm not sure I follow the reasoning.
posted by backseatpilot at 10:36 AM on October 13, 2011


So....a company makes a sexist ad that pokes fun at men, and some men complain, and the company responds by pulling the ad.

By contrast, another company makes a sexist ad that pokes fun at women, and some women complain, but other women and lots of men accuse those women of "blowing it out of proportion" and telling them that complaining makes women look like "pearl-clutching, easily upset matrons", and that they should learn to "take a joke;" meanwhile, the company does not pull the ad.

Interesting.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:36 AM on October 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


In other words, it's an advertisement.

Would it be advertisement if someone developed a method of genetically engineering viruses that could infect people's brains and make them want to buy whatever the "advertiser" coded into the virus?

Because that wouldn't be advertising to me, and yet, it's the natural logical extension of the kinds of psychological marketing techniques used by modern advertisements: the entire goal of ads like this one is to bypass the part of your brain that consciously evaluates evidence to make good, rational decisions, and instead, trick your biology into influencing your choice.

I know it's the way marketing is done, but that doesn't make it any less evil.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:37 AM on October 13, 2011


I'm an avid bike rider. And I see nothing bad about the ad. It's silly, not evil (Fuck, I hate that word. Does it mean anything other than "stuff that really annoys me" anymore?). The ad is also pretty irrelevant to me. I take no offense. And any fool who is suckered by its message deserves to be taken.

Selling cars at the expense of taxpayer bailout money to reduce bike ridership is pretty dodgy, though.

Then again, if you want that bailout to not be a complete waste of taxpayer money, maybe we should be happy that GM is selling mostly American made cars at the expense of mostly Chinese made bicycles, right?
posted by 2N2222 at 10:41 AM on October 13, 2011


Isn't it great to buy gallons of gasoline and light it on fire? For no reason? If you do this, people with think you're sexy!

This is actually true. Go to Burning Man and you will see what I mean - though propane or diesel generally work better, depending on what you are trying to do.
posted by Mars Saxman at 10:41 AM on October 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


In other words, it's an advertisement.

There's a huge difference between advertisements that promote some nutty and harmful idea ("riding bikes will make you unattractive to women") and advertisements that provide helpful information ("that restaurant you like is offering 50% off a meal for two").

In fact, there are ten differences. See if you can spot them all!
posted by Honorable John at 10:52 AM on October 13, 2011


Anyway, why is there a stigma attached to not driving?

Depends on your age, work, and social group.

When we got the car we have now after many years without, I was trying to explain my history of lack-of-insurance in this province, and the agent wasn't so much concerned as flabbergasted. "But, how do you... get around? Do things?" I'm not kidding. Granted, she's in the industry, but I get various degrees of this all the time, or did.

I definitely remember some anti-bike stigma when I was an undergrad, at least from the particular perspective of women-viewing-men. Status thing? Money thing? Maturity thing? Who knows. That was a long time ago, but I bet the image in this ad would resonate with a few people. It's generally a safe bet to prey on the insecure. This ad isn't targeting 30-something civil servant commuters with families. They don't give a fuck.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:53 AM on October 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


maybe we should be happy that GM is selling mostly American made cars at the expense of mostly Chinese made bicycles, right?

American-made cars running on ~20 million barrels of oil a day — mostly from Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and Canada — you mean.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:54 AM on October 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


Be grateful they didn't come up with a campaign showing the poor guy at a doctor's office trying to get treatment for a case of erectile dysfunction brought on by his bicycle seat.
posted by jamjam at 10:54 AM on October 13, 2011


I'd feel more sympathetic for GM if the bike had a banana seat. That would be pretty embarrassing.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:56 AM on October 13, 2011


Where's the profit margin here?
posted by Stagger Lee at 10:56 AM on October 13, 2011


The ad is also pretty irrelevant to me. I take no offense. And any fool who is suckered by its message deserves to be taken.

So, you're cool with gas lighting people, too? It's the victim's fault for getting "suckered" by a con man? The woman's fault for wearing a provocative dress?

The motives are what matter. If your conscious motive as a marketer is to use shame or some other deep psychological drive to manipulate others into doing what you want them to do, rather than appealing to their sense of reason and making your case more honestly and directly, then you're being evil and you're no better than the guys who do this stuff.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:58 AM on October 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Reality sucks if that girl in the car would open her door and knock that bike guy on his ass.
posted by stormpooper at 11:05 AM on October 13, 2011


So, you're cool with gas lighting people, too? It's the victim's fault for getting "suckered" by a con man? The woman's fault for wearing a provocative dress?

Enough with the drama. Nobody is being gas lighted here. Or raped, for chrissakes. GM is using the deep psychological drive to... drive... in order to sell cars. Not drugging people into zombiedom.
posted by 2N2222 at 11:05 AM on October 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Would it be advertisement if someone developed a method of genetically engineering viruses that could infect people's brains and make them want to buy whatever the "advertiser" coded into the virus?

Sure, and that's a great analogy. Marketing that works at deep biological levels bypasses the intellect and tends to be more successful. At least that's what I've read on the beautiful screen of my shiny and amazing iPhone.

But aren't a lot of other ads lying and deceitful and evil? It's almost like there's a continuum of allowable deception, where we say "okay, these car ads that show young people having fun driving to the beach are okay" vs. "this car ad showing a guy getting spurned by a girl in a car is bad". I'd say the latter scenario is as likely or unlikely to happen in real life as the former, and the Giant Bicycle response (going into debt, paying for gas) applies to both.

I mean, if we take for granted that all advertising is evil (and I'd love to hear an argument that it isn't), then why such a hoopla when one advertisement is just blatantly evil? It doesn't make it bad, it just sort of looks inept and tone deaf. GM isn't being politically correct.

And that's what stinks about the response to the ad, and GM's response to the response. It's an excuse for one party to trumpet its righteousness (yet again) and another party to display what idiots they are (yet again).
posted by swift at 11:05 AM on October 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Maybe we should be happy that GM is selling mostly American made cars at the expense of mostly Chinese made bicycles, right?
American-made cars running on ~20 million barrels of oil a day — mostly from Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and Canada — you mean.


I think the both of you mean cars partially assembled in the US running on ~20 million barrels of oil a day — mostly from Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and Canada
posted by entropicamericana at 11:05 AM on October 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


As a pedestrian, I think I'll start fighting the war on bikes. What, you bikers are too good to let your precious feet touch the ground?
posted by madcaptenor at 11:10 AM on October 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ever try to have sex in the backseat of a bicycle?

Not recommended.


Says you. Tell that to her.

I think some people here would consider any car company trying to sell cars to be evil.

Ding ding ding ding! Game's over, folks, smackfu has won the Slippery Slope Prize. If you oppose one stone-aged, needlessly divisive, tone-deaf GM ad, you are against motor vehicles as an idea.


To be fair, I am against motor vehicles as an idea, and I consider any car company trying to sell cars to be evil.

"Is the motorcar evil? Of course not, because it can have no intentions, no interior life, nurse no resentments, and harbor no malice. In daily life it has become commoner than the cold. In the moral realm the auto lacks pizzazz. It is merely an instrument of evil, rippling or killing thousands every year, consuming many of the resources of the earth, eviscerating cities as routinely as butchers their beef, poisoning the atmosphere, fostering illusions of equality and dominion, encouraging envy and macho competitions, facilitating adolescent fornication, and ravaging the countryside. Its horrid offspring are garages, interchanges, and gas stations. Popular delusions, much destruction, increasing casualties, do not make the motorcar evil, because these consequences were never aimed at. The word in vogue for the damage it does is "collateral". But the most considerable obstacle to calling the car "evil" is that its effects are easily explicable. Carbon monoxide is odorless, but that is the extent of its mystery. The price we pay for our automobiles seems more onerous to us than the cost of their use. Just add air bags and buckle up. Our callous indifference to ruinous truth may be less readily formulated."

- Willlam H. Gass, "The ragged core of a sweet apple"
posted by mrgrimm at 11:14 AM on October 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think the both of you mean cars partially assembled in the US running on ~20 million barrels of oil a day — mostly from Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and Canada

Cars partially assembled by American workers in American states with fewer and fewer labor, health and environmental protections, too, which burn oil from oppressive regimes (which includes Canada more and more, these days).

If people follow their behaviors through from start to finish, riding a bicycle — even a Chinese-made one — can arguably be a more ethical choice than driving a car.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:14 AM on October 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


But aren't a lot of other ads lying and deceitful and evil?

Yes.

GM is using the deep psychological drive to... drive... in order to sell cars. Not drugging people into zombiedom.

So you think the underlying motives are any different? Your marking a distinction in degree not in kind. It's not "dramatic" to point out what all of this marketing crap that surrounds us every day and that essentially dominates our popular culture actually is: it's by and large a socially-acceptable form of attempted brain-washing. You don't think it's evil because you "get it" and aren't "suckered." But to me, it's a sucker's bet for everyone in the long run to create and live in the kind of society that structurally rewards the use of sophisticated, lab-tested psychological manipulation techniques for profit.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:19 AM on October 13, 2011


@jimjam - Be grateful they didn't come up with a campaign showing the poor guy at a doctor's office trying to get treatment for a case of erectile dysfunction brought on by his bicycle seat.

That bunk's been debunked several times in bicycle-related fora (example: Here) but seems to still be a fact in non-cycling circles. I don't want to brag but sitting on a Brooks saddle has caused me no problems.

@2N2222 - I don't know. Both of my bikes are made in the good 'ol US of A. Granted, my car's German . . .
posted by Man with Lantern at 11:20 AM on October 13, 2011


I mean, if we take for granted that all advertising is evil (and I'd love to hear an argument that it isn't), then why such a hoopla when one advertisement is just blatantly evil? It doesn't make it bad, it just sort of looks inept and tone deaf. GM isn't being politically correct.

Well, personally, I'd put a stop to all of it in my perfect world, but in the meantime, if any people anywhere don't like an ad, why should anyone else who isn't the advertiser defend it? What's in it for you? You just like the ad so much it's important to you that history make room for it and its message not be suppressed? Why should anyone who isn't the advertiser ever feel loyal to any ad, period? Especially if they know it's an ad that bothers some other people (who have just as much right to have their preferences reflected in the media landscape as anyone else's).

I guess what I'm asking is, how did GM manage to get so many of us doing their marketing work for them, and really, why should we, since we don't get paid to?
posted by saulgoodman at 11:24 AM on October 13, 2011


I don't want to brag but sitting on a Brooks saddle has caused me no problems.

I don't want to brag, but ever since I started riding a BiSaddle, my erections are ENORMOUS.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:26 AM on October 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't want to brag.
posted by everichon at 11:29 AM on October 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well, if you need any proof that corporate America is not run by the best and the brightest, in spite of the enormous executive salaries, here it is.
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:31 AM on October 13, 2011


I don't want to brag, but ever since I started riding a BiSaddle, my erections are ENORMOUS.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:26 AM on October 13 [+] [!]


“There’s as much penis inside the body as outside,” Dr. Schrader told me. “When you sit on a regular bike saddle, you’re sitting on your penis.”
posted by Stagger Lee at 11:33 AM on October 13, 2011


If you're the type of person who rides a bike because you like riding a bike or believe it to be the ethical thing to do, the ad isn't targeted at you. The ad is aimed at people who do not believe they can afford a car, and therefore ride a bike. I understand why the ad is annoying, the same way I'm annoyed by those snotty Kindle ads that attack book-buying as some unhip and silly anachronism, but my goodness what a lot of fuss.
posted by Bookhouse at 11:33 AM on October 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


GM should start some activity where motorists drive through a city in a huge group, ignoring traffic lights, bicycles, and pedestrians. They could call it Critical Gas. If anyone complains, say they're just trying to raise public awareness of motoring, and that it's not organized.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:34 AM on October 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


I think the both of you mean cars partially assembled in the US running on ~20 million barrels of oil a day — mostly from Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and Canada

Actually, to correct this a bit more, it should really be:

I think the both of you mean cars partially assembled in the US running on ~20 million barrels of oil a day — partly from Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and Canada
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:35 AM on October 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


So you think the underlying motives are any different?

Yes. Zombies make terrible customers.

It's not "dramatic" to point out what all of this marketing crap that surrounds us every day and that essentially dominates our popular culture actually is: it's by and large a socially-acceptable form of attempted brain-washing. You don't think it's evil because you "get it" and aren't "suckered." But to me, it's a sucker's bet for everyone in the long run to create and live in the kind of society that structurally rewards the use of sophisticated, lab-tested psychological manipulation techniques for profit.

It's dramatic to equate the GM ad with "asking to be raped" or even brainwashing. It doesn't affect you, because you're enlightened. But you're concerned about all the poor suggestible rubes out there. It's evil for companies to use their magic for profit. Yet, it's benign for saulgoodman to advocate his pet view of the world because his motives are good. According to him. His is a quasi-religious view. That I don't share.

It's an excuse for one party to trumpet its righteousness (yet again).

Yes, swift summed it up well with this nugget.
posted by 2N2222 at 11:38 AM on October 13, 2011


[...]if any people anywhere don't like an ad, why should anyone else who isn't the advertiser defend it? What's in it for you? [...] I guess what I'm asking is, how did GM manage to get so many of us doing their marketing work for them, and really, why should we, since we don't get paid to?

Okay, first of all I don't understand the premise that one should stay silent on a subject just because talking about it might accidentally result in some viral marketing. Did I mention how much I love my iPhone?

Second of all, what are we marketing, exactly? Can you name the two vehicles advertised without looking at the ad? I can't. As far as I can tell, the only thing that's happening is that GM's brand is looking even worse than it did before.

Third, I don't think anyone is defending the ad. I'm not. I'm saying that people are attacking it not for what it is -- another manipulative piece of fiction in a media landscape dominated by same -- but for how useful it is for demonstrating what kind of person they are. It's a prop.
posted by swift at 11:41 AM on October 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yes. Zombies make terrible customers.

Not if you're selling brains!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:42 AM on October 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm saying that people are attacking it not for what it is -- another manipulative piece of fiction in a media landscape dominated by same -- but for how useful it is for demonstrating what kind of person they are. It's a prop.

Do you have any evidence for this, though? I think people are making a big deal about it because first, it's a shitty ad, and second, it's so blatantly over the line that making a big deal about it had a chance of getting it pulled.

As a side benefit, it also neatly punctures GM's hypocrisy over its "green" re-imaging campaign. As per Jon Stewart, the best way of calling duplicitous people out is to hang them with their own words.
posted by en forme de poire at 12:03 PM on October 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's dramatic to equate the GM ad with "asking to be raped" or even brainwashing. It doesn't affect you, because you're enlightened.

BS. It totally effects me and everyone else. If you think I'm special, you're mistaken. We're all awash in psychologically manipulative BS these days, and it's much, much harder for any of us to know what we're doing and to make proper, informed decisions as a result. That applies to me, you and everybody else, but it still sucks.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:07 PM on October 13, 2011


Why should they pull the ad? GM sells cars.

Well, they try.
posted by atrazine at 12:07 PM on October 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


"Riding a bike is a good excuse --the only one, really-- to wear lycra shorts that show off your assets. Just sayin'."

Lycra is a privilege, not a right!
posted by Pecantree at 12:09 PM on October 13, 2011


It's an excuse for one party to trumpet its righteousness (yet again) and another party to display what idiots they are (yet again).

It's worse than that. Getting GM to pull the ad gives people a false sense of accomplishment, when they have accomplished absolutely nothing except giving GM free publicity.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:10 PM on October 13, 2011


It's evil for companies to use their magic for profit.

Don't be silly. There are several perfectly rational reasons to consider the ethical implications of this ad, and of GM at large — one major one which I had pointed out to you and which you have, interestingly, failed to address.

You're free to disagree with some of our rational, fact-based evaluations, but it's pretty silly and dismissive of you to call them "religious" responses.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:11 PM on October 13, 2011


There is more to "profit" in the long term than a short-term financial gain.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:15 PM on October 13, 2011


All I've said is the obvious: Trying to use sophisticated psychological manipulation techniques on the general public to make a buck is evil. This ad, I don't care who did what--who made it, who opposed it, whatever--but it's still impossible for me to understand why anyone would ever defend any kind of commercial ad from any kind of criticism. What's in it for you? Why do people feel so loyal to the brands they like?

I guess it's just like an article of religious faith to point out that there's a whole billion a year industry in the modern science of psychological marketing, and of course, you can't click those links to see my evidence--you just have to believe.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:24 PM on October 13, 2011


GM should start making bicycles.
posted by tommyD at 12:27 PM on October 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


GM should start some activity where motorists drive through a city in a huge group, ignoring traffic lights, bicycles, and pedestrians. They could call it Critical Gas. If anyone complains, say they're just trying to raise public awareness of motoring, and that it's not organized.

I believe they call that "Rush Hour."
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:29 PM on October 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


I think some people here would consider any car company trying to sell cars to be evil.
Yup. You can count me in to that group. I once had a company that sort of skirted around the marketing/advertising world. One day I found we'd drifted in to doing some work for a car company - I realised at that moment that I had taken a wrong turn and that if I carried on in that direction I would eventually betray everything i believed in. I quit the company immediately after that project.
posted by silence at 12:30 PM on October 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


GM should start making bicycles.

Apparently they did, at least for awhile.
posted by backseatpilot at 12:43 PM on October 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Bikes aren't the enemy, even to GM. Toyota, Honda, Mazda -- these are the enemy, and GM knows it. But it's easier to make fun of transportation that doesn't outclass you in every way (just many ways).
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 12:45 PM on October 13, 2011


Getting GM to pull the ad gives people a false sense of accomplishment, when they have accomplished absolutely nothing except giving GM free publicity.

I also don't understand this, though. Assuming this was intentional, what kind of publicity is GM hoping to get? Are they counting on galvanizing the anti-environmental dollar? That would waste most of their branding efforts over the last few years. And bad publicity can of course be helpful, but only if nobody knows who you are.
posted by en forme de poire at 1:25 PM on October 13, 2011


GM is using the deep psychological drive to... drive... in order to sell cars.

As far as I know, there were no cars in the ancestral environment. The ad is using the deep psychological drive to display one's high status in order to attract mates and signal power.
posted by knave at 1:27 PM on October 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


Do you have any evidence for this, though?

Well, there's the Giant Bicycles parody. And this thread.

As a side benefit, it also neatly punctures GM's hypocrisy over its "green" re-imaging campaign.

In other words, it's a multi-purpose prop.

Don't get me wrong, I think it's great to point out hypocrisy, and if people are fighting the good fight, more power to them. But this seems like a lot of noise over an ad whose premise is not, in itself, controversial: many college men would rather drive a car and enjoy the attendant perceived benefits and conveniences, instead of pedaling a bike. The fact that the ad also propagates this message is also uncontroversial -- that's what makes it an ad, and not a textbook illustration or something.

It's an ad not aimed at converting those who ride a bike for the psychological and physical rewards of doing so, but at those who ride a bike because it's the best they can manage. How GM thinks the guy in this ad is going to cough up the dough to buy a brand-new car is beyond me, but I think it's safe to assume that he will eventually buy a car.

Any sense of victory over pulling this ad is completely misplaced. This ad has succeeded in being terrible on so many fronts that it's amazing it ever existed in the first place.

it's still impossible for me to understand why anyone would ever defend any kind of commercial ad from any kind of criticism.

If the criticism isn't fully considered or examined, then it isn't worth a shit.
posted by swift at 1:34 PM on October 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Except that any defense of an ad becomes a part of the ad campaign, and personally, I don't get paid enough to freelance for GM.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:51 PM on October 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


As long as I live in Los Angeles (hopefully not much longer) and have to get my kids to school and my ass to work, I will have to drive a car. I turned 40, and rather than run out and buy a Corvette or somesuch, I ran out and bought a small Volvo station wagon. About as desperately uncool as a fellah could choose, I reckoned.

Apparently (as with my decision to buy an 80s Honda Elite scooter for the uncool factor) I completely missed the mark, and have been getting a surprising amount of positive attention. Presumably for bucking the trend.

I suppose I'd best put a bike on top of it to complete the trifecta.
posted by davejay at 1:51 PM on October 13, 2011


I think the both of you mean cars partially assembled in the US running on ~20 million barrels of oil a day — partly from Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and Canada

Apologies, that would make it ~10 million barrels of oil a day, which are mostly coming from oppressive regimes like Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, and an increasingly repressive regime like Canada, which is changing its health and human rights policies for the worse, as more oil money runs in.

So, in full consideration of the intrinsic and extrinsic message that GM is sending, it is a shitty ad, in defense of shitty, consequence-free behavior, which in turn makes life really shitty for millions of human beings inside and outside the target markets where GM sells its shitty cars.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:28 PM on October 13, 2011


I don't think they're evil because they thought they could run this stupid ad, I think their evil because they won't research and produce cars that aren't gas-guzzlers. But of course, I'm sure GM execs have plenty of oil stock, and it's all about the profit$.
posted by BlueHorse at 4:59 PM on October 13, 2011


I've gotten stoned, drunk and laid in cars. Never on a bicycle, although I liked riding them as a kid. Now I just ride the subway.
posted by jonmc at 4:59 PM on October 13, 2011


I think their evil because they won't research and produce cars that aren't gas-guzzlers.

What?
posted by wildcrdj at 5:07 PM on October 13, 2011


I should add that the people I know with Volts seem pretty happy with them, and they got a good plug-in hybrid out before Toyota bothered. If the range of something like a Leaf is a problem (which it is for many people), the Volt is probably the best hybrid out there.
posted by wildcrdj at 5:09 PM on October 13, 2011


Any sense of victory over pulling this ad is completely misplaced.

I disagree; I think calling attention to this ad will help put GM's messaging about environmentally-friendly initiatives into perspective. It was an easy target, sure, but so are political gaffes, and sometimes those have lasting effects. I'm not saying that this means that the environment is saved and we can all declare victory and go back to Project Runway or whatever, but I also don't think saying "hey, that ad was particularly fucked up" makes you some kind of self-congratulatory narcissist.
posted by en forme de poire at 7:20 PM on October 13, 2011


(sorry, that last bit was a little fightier than I meant it to be)
posted by en forme de poire at 8:00 PM on October 13, 2011


What's wrong with that? Seems pretty tame.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 8:32 PM on October 13, 2011



Oil company commercial: "Isn't it great to buy gallons of gasoline and light it on fire? For no reason? If you do this, people with think you're sexy! We think you should do it, and we'll even give you a discount when you guy the gas!"


I wanted to do this during that stupid 'turn off all the lights' day as a protest.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 8:33 PM on October 13, 2011


Don't use matches to light a well-ventilated gas fire! Burn some brightly colored plastic outside!

I've also done this.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 8:33 PM on October 13, 2011


I wanted to do this during that stupid 'turn off all the lights' day as a protest.

Cool story, bro
posted by crayz at 4:13 AM on October 14, 2011


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