Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Ride A Bicycle? You Loser!

Well, well. What do we have here? I get home yesterday and review my Twitter feed to find out that a certain company that many cyclists are bailing out of bankruptcy is calling me, (in so many words), a "loser" for commuting by bicycle. Gee.....maybe this bail out thing was a bad idea after all? Ya think? 

Here is the offending media, which ran in college newspapers all across the country. (Thank God no one actually reads newspapers anymore. Come to think of it, my bailout money is paying for that stupid ad placement. Hey!.......) ....anyway.....

Click to enlarge
  First off, I have to thank the most excellent Jonathan Maus of Bike Portland for the information here.

The ad says "Reality Sucks...Luckily the GM college discount doesn't.", while showing a shamed young man on a bike with a smarmy looking young female in what we are to assume is an actual working GM automobile. Futhermore; the ad says in the lower left corner, "Stop pedaling, start driving."

I've got an answer to that: "NO." And our students should also not buy into this preconceived notion that life is about getting your degree and a new car. (In fact, you don't really need either one of those things.)

But it gets weirder. Later in the day, after the "Bike Portland" post, GM was assailed for this lack of judgement by Bicycling Magazine, who gets ad dollars from GM, by the way. Then GM addressed the Bike Magazine Tweet by stating the following....

GM General Motors

@BicyclingMag Want to let you know we're making changes to the ads based on input. We created w/student input and didn't mean to offend.
So, what the.....?!!  At least it appears they will be making a running change. 

First off, it is easy to get a bit ticked off about the whole GM angle on this. They got bailed out of bankruptcy by the Government, (read: You and I), and then they go and place ads for car sales in a college newspaper or two that puts bicyclists in a poor light. Great. We're already targets for ignorant, distracted, and misinformed drivers, and now they are inadvertently perpetuating the same attitude amongst the "next generation". Not to mention the fact that they are perpetuating the dream that we'll forever be able to actually drive cars in the first place. (At least fossil fueled ones). 

So, there is all that and more. However; there is also the flip side of that coin. Are we telling college students that riding bicycles is cool, good for the world, and good for them? Are we telling our school agers that walking is okay, good, and should be pursued? Are we fostering an attitude that public transportation, busses, trains, and the like should be made more prevalent? I wonder. While these questions are decided, the marketers to the impressionable are molding the public psyche for the next 40 years or more. One ad at a time........

UPDATE: Now I have learned that because of this and several other blogs that have denounced GM's advertising campaign, the offending ads will be taken down and/or cease being published. Read about it here.


Apis said...

If firearms manufacturers can be, and are sued for the wrongful deaths of gunshot victims why can't we as cyclists sue the auto makers for the same thing when their product(s) are used in the murder of us?

mw said...

i love the twitter.

that ad did get me going for a few hours. it was like cross training with the elevated heart rate i had.

more people are riding bikes everyday, but when i was in college i thought even more people would be riding by now.

it just seems so obviously the better mode, when your pedaling down the road.

Rob said...

I fail to see how driving a Chevy Sonic is in any way cooler than riding a bike?

Jason said...

When was the last time the government bailed out a bicycle company? Oh that's right, never. What a stupid ad by GM. Thanks for the blood pressure boost this morning :)

Barb Chamberlain, Bike Style Spokane said...

Your local convention/visitors bureau doesn't show a photo of a traffic jam or drivers hunting for parking in your downtown.

They show cute urban cyclists with farmers' market veggies & flowers, or hot, fit road cyclists, or young mountain bikers enjoying the scenic outdoors.

We know who's really cool.

Found your blog thanks to @kentsbike on Twitter.

Barb Chamberlain
Bike Style Spokane

Small Adventures said...

Just the HR boost I needed to fuel my fire to get going this morning. Shame on you Gm,SHAME!

MG said...

it's true... that ad definitely raised my blood pressure a bit too. and it solidified my opinion that General Motors is not a company with whom i wish to do business. not today, or ever. so while i'm upset that they're perpetuating mass ignorance, it's doing absolutely nothing but pour more cement on my already solid opinion of the company. it's an opinion that rests firmly at the bottom of the barrel.

if they only knew how much fun riding bikes is... and how much better it is to be able to park right in-front of a building and walk right in. fantastic...

oh well... if everybody did it, it wouldn't be so cool.

have a great day,