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Posts from the "Ad Nauseam" Category

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Chevy: What Better Way to Explore the Divisadero “Microhood” Than by Car?

The marketers at Chevy totally have this urban millennial thing nailed down. The car manufacturer sponsored this promotional video for a Divisadero Microhood Art Walk held last week, along with the website The Bold Italic.

In this virtual tour of the microhood, local business owner Erin Fong gets into one of Chevy’s electric Volts, driving an entire five blocks from the east side of Alamo Square to Divisadero. The drive is shown in a time lapse from the windshield. (Not shown: the hunt for a parking space.)

If the video leaves you puzzled and thinking, “That makes no sense whatsoever,” you’re not alone. Watching a video about driving is the complete antithesis of actually getting immersed in a microhood, an activity for which walking might be the best mode of transport. Perhaps that’s why the event is called an art walk.

Apparently, this campaign to market cars to urban millennials is no isolated incident. It’s part of General Motors’ Drive the District campaign, targeting major cities around the country, including Austin, Boston, Chicago, New York, Portland, and Washington, D.C.. It’s certainly no coincidence that these cities are both seeing an influx of young people, and also making it easier to get around without a car.

Perhaps Chevy doesn’t know how out of touch they appear, trying to sell cars to young folks in one of America’s most walkable neighborhoods. As this generation loses interest in owning and driving cars, auto industry advertising only seems to become more clueless.

Streetsblog NYC 22 Comments

Nissan to Millennials: If You Really Want to Get Around, Don’t Drive

This Nissan ad, in heavy rotation during the NFL playoffs, smacks of 21st century carmaker desperation.

In “Commute,” a young motorist, stuck with colleagues in city traffic and watching cyclists pass her by, speeds onto a conveniently located ramp and launches her Nissan Rogue on top of a passing train. Now they can get where they’re going quickly and reliably.

“Fantasy, do not attempt,” reads a tongue-in-cheek disclaimer, as the driver floors it and M.I.A.’s “Y.A.L.A.” pulses in the background. “Cars can’t jump on trains.”

True to car ad convention, the millenial crew lands in an empty parking lot, having arrived early for their meeting. Says the voice-over: “Commute your way with the bold, all-new Nissan Rogue.”

This ad bears resemblance to the subject of the first-ever Streetsblog Ad Nauseam. The ground has shifted in the seven years since General Motors levitated cars and drivers above traffic-choked urban streets. While motorists still yearn to escape their own gridlock, the Nissan ad is a pretty clear-cut expression of automaker anxiety over millenials’ transportation preferences.

Cars can’t jump on trains — but people can, and increasing numbers of young Americans are opting not to drive. In 2014, “commute your way” sounds less like a car company slogan than an invitation to trade the hassles of auto ownership for a bike or metro pass.

The real fantasy, of course, is that you can drive everywhere without expecting to get stuck in traffic. Carmakers know this, and their target audience does too. Wrote one YouTube commenter: “Millennials are choosing transit and bikes over car-debt. Nissan, your strategy is showing.”

Streetsblog NYC 14 Comments

Is This the Best Transit Ad Ever?

SF editor’s note: I can personally vouch for the speed, reliability and comfort of Midttrafik, as I relied on it during my semester in Denmark. 

The idea of investing in transit is popular with Americans, even among those who don’t depend on it. But trains and buses, buses in particular, have always had an image problem. U.S. transit providers could take a cue from this Danish ad, which makes light of the mundane nature of bus travel (free handles!) in a way that actually makes transit look “cool.” Turn on the captions for the full effect.

Hat tip to Dani Simons.

Streetsblog NYC 12 Comments

Truffula Buffs Rebuff Mazda: The Lorax Selling Cars? Enough Is Enough!

Mazda: "Show you care an awful lot" ...by buying a Mazda.

If you read Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax growing up or you read it to your kids today, then the sight of Mazda trotting out the protector of Truffula trees to hawk cars may have stirred deep feelings of revulsion. Our friend the Zozo has a petition on Change.org for you:

In these advertisements Mazda and Universal claim that a new automobile is “Certified Truffula Tree Friendly” and imply an endorsement of their product by the cherished title character of “The Lorax.” By airing these advertisements, Mazda and Universal have shamelessly turned a character who has inspired millions of children to care about their environment into a car salesman. Cars–even ones that pollute a little less–are neither kid-friendly nor good for the environment.

We are calling on Mazda, Universal Pictures, and their partners to immediately remove any advertising that associates “The Lorax” with automobiles from all forms of media: print, television, radio, movie trailers, the internet, merchandising, etc.

And now, a few more revolting reasons to sign the petition:

Read more…

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Ad Nauseam 2010: The Year in Car Commercials

Car sales are up, auto shows are packing them in, and the GM IPO was oversubscribed, but there may be no surer indicator of the auto industry’s recovery than the renewed avalanche of car ads rumbling across every medium. And there’s no better way to get a glimpse of what a born-again car culture might look like than to stay on the couch for a spell, un-mute the TV, and watch—that’s right, on purpose—a sample of 2010’s ads selling us our car-centric way of life. Here are some of the year’s most egregious attempts to get us into the dealership by conflating car ownership with American values.

Dodge Charger: “Man’s Last Stand”

Chrysler stokes the gender wars with this ad suggesting that the American male may seem to have been tamed by the boss and neutered by the wife, but all that the rebel within needs to bust out is a $38K fully loaded Dodge Charger. The road is his last refuge, the one place where he can still be a manly man. He’ll “eat fruit” at home, but he won’t be a fruit in control of the kind of growling, ferocious muscle car that had its heyday back when men last really had it good. (For a rejoinder, click here.)

Toyota Sienna: “Mommy Like”

How does a mom, stressed from commuting to work and shuttling the kids to soccer practice day in and day out, get away from it all? Why, of course, by spending more time in her vehicle! In this commercial for the Sienna minivan, Mommy steals some quality time alone—in the backseat where the kids usually get to have all the fun. The message? Auto dependence’s problems are solved not by driving less but by buying more, including a new car chock-a-block with luxury options to distract us from the aggravation and tedium of the average 18 ½ hours Americans sit in a car each week.

Read more…

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Cellular Industry Gives Big Tobacco a Run for Its Money

cellad.jpgWestern Union cellphone ad from 1984. Image via NYT

Concerns
arose not long after it hit the market. External studies seemed to
confirm what industry insiders feared: The product could pose a public
health risk. But as sales soared, whistleblowers who didn’t leave their
jobs were forced to keep quiet. Companies maintained a posture of
denial as a mountain of damning evidence, some of it from their own
investigations, kept growing. Bowing to pressure, some consented to
warning labels and other notices, but still insisted that claims of
product-related injuries and deaths remained unproven.

It’s a familiar story. And in the latest installment of
its "Driven to Distraction" series, the NY Times lays out in detail how,
in this case, it was the mobile phone industry that continued to market its product
for use in a manner long believed to be hazardous to its customers and
the population at large. The result: As far back as seven years ago,
the Times reports, "drivers using cellphones were causing 2,600 fatal
crashes a year in the United States and 570,000 accidents that resulted
in a range of injuries, from minor to serious." Now a lawsuit, among
the first of its kind, has been filed against Samsung and Sprint Nextel
by a woman whose mother was killed by a distracted driver in Oklahoma City in 2008.

Of
course a key issue is the line between provider and motorist
responsibility. The driver in this case, who pleaded to misdemeanor
negligent homicide, does not blame the cellular industry. "It’s our
choice if we’re going to talk on the cellphone while driving or walking
down the street or in the office," he said. "The cellphone companies
don’t say you should talk on the phone and drive."

Read more…

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Garmin: Chat, Navigate and Steer — But Don’t Drive Distracted

The first time I saw this ad I thought my eyes and ears were deceiving me. But no, there it is: a young woman holding a cellphone toward the camera as "nüvifone" maker Garmin beckons viewers to "communicate while navigating."

"With my nüvifone, I can take calls from my friends while I'm driving to them," she says as she's shown piloting an SUV with two passengers, one of whom accepts an incoming call on a phone mounted to the windshield. (Note to Garmin: Hands-free is not brain-free.)

Maybe the most egregious aspect is the "Do not drive while distracted" disclaimer -- which pops up as the young woman is depicted driving while distracted.

nuviphonegrab.jpg
What the ad doesn't show: The driver plows her SUV through one of the pedestrian-populated shots that follow, and bystanders whip out their nüvifones to call 911, text their friends and photograph the carnage.
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Ad Nauseam: Toyota’s (Passive-Aggressive) Ransom Note to America

Toyota wants you to know that it's here for you. And not just as a car maker, as the company explains in this spot, ironically entitled "Community."

Like GM before them, Toyota wants to make sure you realize just how much their company means to you. Here's our voice-over:

"We acknowledge you are coming to despise automobiles, but your nation depends on our industry for so many jobs that, even if we only manufactured cardboard cut-out cars that you had to carry down your few remaining walkable Main Streets, you'd still need us, America."

Accompanying the ad is the aggressively cloying and patently manipulative "Beyond Cars" web site -- which if nothing else should serve as an irresistible culture-jamming target. What do we see, Toyota? For starters, we see a world where your product doesn't kill people.

And you? What do you see?

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Ad Nauseam: Jay Leno Plays Vehicular Manslaughter for Laughs

According to Movieline (via New York Mag), Jay Leno's new prime time show, set to debut on NBC in September, hasn't exactly been generating a lot of buzz. But since nothing says funny like a grisly hit-and-run, this promo, co-starring Fred Armisen of "Saturday Night Live," should turn things around.

Though I'm pretty sure Leno has never gotten as much as a chuckle from me, I understand where the humor is supposed to be here. Yet for some reason the laughter isn't coming.

Somewhere, though, I imagine pedestrian-hater Robert Novak is yukking it up.

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Ad Nauseam: What “Cash for Clunkers” Hath Wrought

The government's Cash for Clunkers program officially begins today, but car dealers have been running ads like this one for a while already. They have to keep the public informed: Now you can trade in your old car and buy a brand-new SUV or pick-up truck with a hefty assist from Uncle Sam.

Here we have the government spending a billion dollars on about 250,000 vouchers for individual car buyers. Ostensibly, the purpose is to save some jobs and cut some emissions. Meanwhile, we're in the middle of a budget crisis affecting transit agencies serving 22 million Americans. Green jobs and emissions-reducing transportation are on the line. When DOT Secretary LaHood holds his press event on Monday touting the roll-out of Cash for Clunkers, someone should ask him how the Obama administration can justify this dubious car industry subsidy while hanging transit riders out to dry.