'Stop pedaling… start driving'

General Motors has a new program aimed at college students, hoping to inspire them to buy GM cars with a “college discount.”

The “Reality Sucks” advertisement has all the subtly of a commercial for Axe Body Spray — and apparently is aimed at the same insecure demographic.

Just in case the ad is too subtle, I’ve added some handy speech bubbles.

GM College Program
Screenshot: http://www.facebook.com/gmcollegeprogram

And the League of American Bicyclists is shocked, shocked to find that marketing is going on in here!

In one of the more remarkably ill-conceived car ad campaigns of all time, good corporate citizen GM is heading to campus to actively stop you from riding a bike by trying to make it look like it sucks.


In case you were wondering, GM has a fine-sounding corporate responsibility statement "“ carefully crafted by the best in the business, I'm sure. One sample quote: "As a responsible corporate citizen, General Motors is dedicated to protecting human health, natural resources and the global environment."   http://www.gm.com/vision/our_vision.html

And if you wanted to send a quick note to Chevrolet or GMC, there are instructions on how to do that.

The best responses to this GM campaign are on the Facebook wall for this college program, which seem to be universally negative.

Here is a selection:

GM College Program Facebook
Screenshot: http://www.facebook.com/gmcollegeprogram

The best comment I’ve seen is this one:

Make crap cars – alienate smart car buyers
Make anticyclist ad – alienate almost everyone
No buyers, no sales, bankruptcy
Reality sucks, GM, doesn’t it?

There’s now even an online petition to get GM to stop this ad campaign.

But the reality that sucks is the reality that we still live in a society where vehicle ownership is considered by many people to be obligatory. In this milieu, not owning an internal-combustion vehicle is a social liability. GM is merely leveraging this social reality. As much as anyone, I’m hoping this marketing ploy will backfire.

But I fear that this backlash will hardly register to GM.

The people who can change this sucky reality are those of us who commute by bike — to school, to work, to the store — and by doing so, make that social liability shrink and wither into insignificance.

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