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.

  • GC

    Yeah, if you drove it you’d pretty much miss everything on that stretch, have to find a place to park (good luck), then go back and walk it to discover why you might have gone through.

  • mcva

    This is terrible.

    Also, not Streetsblog related per se, but (except for the park) the two places she showcases in the neighborhood have only been there for about a year each. While nice additions, they hardly define the (micro?) hood.

  • Bob Gunderson

    Good to see she’s not using her legs like a sucker.

  • But don’t we think Chevy is doing us a service? I mean, it’s saving us from the paltry bus service (24, 5, 21, 31, 22, 6, 71) and far-flung location (just smack-dab in the middle of the northern part of the City, not too many hill to bike or walk)? Oh, no? Yeah, I agree. This is really, really sad.

  • guest

    Why doesn’t Trek, Specialized, Giant, et al make ads like this? I’ve seen Gary Fisher comment here. I wonder if he sees this he (or anyone else) might have some insight as to why there aren’t ads like this from the bike industry.

  • SFnative74

    She should have went to Popeye’s.

  • Bruce Halperin

    Steiner to Divisadero is only three blocks, not five. Which makes this even more absurd than it already is.

  • davistrain

    Your guest who asked why bicycle manufacturers don’t do ads like the car companies do pointed up a part of the uphill fight to get the general public interested in non-automotive transport. Weekend newspapers are full of car-dealer ads, some taking full pages. Network TV shows get a good portion of their sponsorship from Detroit and the foreign “marques”. Somehow my Facebook page gets periodic ads for the Chrysler 200 (and my last Chrysler car was a Dodge Aries about 15 years ago.). But compared to GM, Honda, BMW et al., the US bike makers are a “cottage industry” and don’t have the money for prime time TV ads.

  • sahra

    driving does, however, make it easier to avoid seeing the last people that haven’t yet been pushed out by all that gentrification…maybe that’s why a car is so necessary?

  • ubrayj02

    The U.S. cycling market is estimated to be $6.6 billion dollars. That is approximately the same size as the after market auto parts industry – so maybe the bike business could co-sponsor a NASCAR racer along with a cellphone company partner. Buy an effective TV ad for the whole industry? Yeah, not gonna happen.

    Sales in new bikes has dipped in several categories, and the industry has flat lined overall – though transportation cycling has spiked.

    Bikes are great, the bike business is not the place to look for marketing budgets.

  • ubrayj02

    The only thing this ad demonstrates is that car companies will pay lucky fashionable cute young people money for just about anything. It’s like the hipster lottery, really. We could use a lot more of it too, considering how downwardly mobile we all seem to be these days.

  • gneiss

    Most of the newer transportation bicycle companies like Public are using other forms of media for their advertising. Here’s what they are doing:

    Looking at this ad, you can see how much Ford is aping the transportation bicycle companies. The only difference is while Public is happy to provide product placement, we only see the Chevy Volt once in their ad.

  • Chris J.

    Gag. How could a “local artisan” ever agree to being in something like that?

  • Pretty embarrassing. Cycling with her friends would have made a better spot. At least the car should have been plugged in so it would be electric.

  • “Now we drove half a block to be here at Popeyes, our local neighborhood chicken spot.”

  • Is that the word for a vented microwave hood?

  • Bicycles sell grassroots, by word of mouth. No huge budget needed or wanted.

  • Well, I was counting the two blocks the time lapse shows traveling on Steiner southbound, and Divisadero northbound, before and after Hayes.

  • yermom72

    The cluelessness was already present in the very concept “microhood.”

  • Anyone who would drive from Alamo Square to The Mill is an idiot. It is at most three-tenths of a mile (even from the far SE corner), an 8 minute walk.

    I am not a fan of the Volt, but I do see it has advantages for long trips that extend beyond the range of current electric cars. Chevy should have shown hipsters coming to Divisadero from, say, Bakersfield or Redding. (They could have parked their car at Alamo Square and left it there the whole day.) Sell the road trip, Chevy. That’s about all you have left.

  • ladyfleur

    I would go the opposite direction and show city residents hopping in a Volt and heading across the Golden Gate for a day trip hitting fun spots in Marin: walking in Muir Woods, relaxing on Stinson Beach, shopping in Fairfax, etc.

  • xc ❄

    Probably an opportunity to showcase her business, and the thought of “at least it’s an *electric* car”

  • Tony

    I’d rather take transit to all those places.


Wiggle Safety Upgrades Delayed Over Turn Bans to Reduce Thru Traffic

Improvements that would make the Wiggle calmer and safer have been delayed after continued driver protests against three left turn bans on Divisadero Street proposed as part of the project. Approval of the project was removed from the SFMTA Board of Directors’ Tuesday agenda and postponed until June. Hoodline reported that some members of the Lower […]

Neighborhood Outreach Continues for Fell and Oak Bikeways

Fourteen years of community-driven efforts to improve conditions on Fell and Oak Streets around the Panhandle are finally paying off. The outreach continues on a vision for separated bikeways that would provide San Franciscans safe access to the flattest route connecting the western neighborhoods to areas east while making the neighborhood more livable for residents and businesses. […]