Thursday, February 2, 2012

Another conspiracy theory put to rest...

Here's a misleading article that appears in today's Huffington Post titled Creeps and Weirdos: The Auto Industry Agenda for Keeping You on Four Wheels

The article was picked up by Nation of Change, a left leaning political organization who has without my permission added me to their mailing list. In other words they're spamming me. Anyway, the article starts out by mentioning a guy in LA who doesn't himself drive but parks his bike in his rented parking space. His building's management wrote and told him the spot's for cars only and to cease and desist with parking the bike in said space. To me that seems a trifle silly, but there probably exists a reasonable, amicable solution for both parties, not something worth basing an article on in a national publication.

Then the article brings up two print ads for GM that appeared in college papers at one time or other. One ad consists of a photograph of a bus whose destination sign reads "Creeps and Weirdos" with an inset reading "Luckily there's an alternative" and goes on to describe reasonable rates for purchasing a Chevy Cavalier. The other ad features a photograph of a guy on a bike shielding his face from an attractive woman in a car. The ad implies the sly smile on her face means she's smirking at him for riding a bike and not driving. The copy reads: "Reality Sucks, luckily the GM College Discount Doesn't", then adds details about buying a car and a pickup for low rates.

The Huff Post article excoriates GM for trying to use "shame" to manipulate consumers away from using means of transportation other than the automobile. It goes on to list all the obvious reasons why we should shun our cars in favor of those very alternative means such as bikes and public transportation.

Fair enough, I've been saying exactly the same things about alternative transportation on this blog for nearly three years. What the Huff Post article does not mention is that both ads, the bus one which appeared in Vancouver six years ago, and the bike one which appeared more recently in a few college rags in the US, were both roundly criticized by readers and the plug was pulled on both of them almost as soon as they first appeared.

Now I'm as much of an advocate of riding bikes and taking public transportation as the next guy, but frankly I don't take these ads at all seriously, nor am I offended by them in the least. To me they're just cheeky ads that are trying their best to get folks' attention and get them to buy their product. That's what advertising is all about.

After all, all's fair in love, war and advertising, and if people are dumb enough to let an ad convince them that they should get off their bikes and into a car, well shame on them.

All I can say is let the buyer beware and let's lighten up for gosh sake.

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