American auto manufacturer General Motors (only recently bailed out with $25 billion in US taxpayer funds) has had to pull a remarkably ill conceived advertising campaign after it backfired spectacularly. The campaign has made GM a laughing stock on social media sites around the world. It's astonishing that any modern company could be so completely out of touch with the market it is trying to sell products to.
For a while now, GM has been pushing an ad campaign aimed at college students called "Reality Sucks." One of the ads (pictured) tries to imply that bicycling is some sort of shameful act, saying students should "stop pedaling... start driving." It sort of floated under the radar until Bike Portland got a hold of it, and now GM is under fire. As the League of American Bicyclists put it:
To call this ad tone-deaf to the way the Igeneration thinks might be the understatement of the year. The people this ad was aimed at love cycling. They are buying less and less cars every year and for them cycling is not only cool and fashionable but an important political and environmental statement. Igen is also quick to note, enjoy (and promote widely) these kind of corporate blunders, especially when it's from a megacorp like GM which is a virtual poster child for the anti corporate backlash that is currently occurring in the United States.
If you are a student looking to add tens of thousands of dollars of long term debt, care little about the environment, and want to lump two tons of steel around campus while paying through the nose for insurance, gas, and parking...General Motors has got a perfect deal for you. Bonus: it'll make you fat and unhealthy! All you have to do is give up that dorky bicycle that's easy to use, practically free, gets you some exercise and is actually fun to ride.
Giant bicycles were quick to respond with their own clever twist on the ad:
I couldn't help thinking that the smile the young woman is directing at the cyclist might be based on something other than pity. After all the cyclist is going to be fitter and richer than a car driver and anyone who rides in traffic is obviously more courageous and tougher than some McDonalds eating slob who spends his travel time watching his fuel gauge run down while he pollutes the atmosphere. I reckon she's probably wishing she was on a bike herself.