GM to College Students: Stop Pedaling, Start Driving

Car ads that try to appeal to the desire for social status are nothing new, but here’s one that just gets it wrong: GM is trying to convince college students that driving a Buick is hipper than riding a fixie.

Nice try, GM. Unfortunately for you, college kids aren’t falling for it. People between the ages of 20 and 40 are driving way less today than people that age drove just 10 years ago.

So, in this picture, who would be the one smiling and who would be the one hiding her face? In the deliciously sarcastic words of Andy Clarke at the League of American Bicyclists:

If you are a student looking to add tens of thousands of dollars of long term debt, care little about the environment, and want to lump two tons of steel around campus while paying through the nose for insurance, gas, and parking… General Motors has got a perfect deal for you. Bonus: it’ll make you fat and unhealthy! All you have to do is give up that dorky bicycle that’s easy to use, practically free, gets you some exercise and is actually fun to ride.

The ad is so wildly off the mark that the League is mostly poking fun at GM’s misperception of the collegiate idea of Cool — but for good measure, they’ve got an action alert in case you want to tell GM just how out of touch its marketing department has become.

  • Anonymous

    Ad campaign is already canceled: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/money_co/2011/10/gm-pulls-advertisment-that-offended-cyclists-.html

  • Maaaty

    Looks to me as if he’s ignoring her.

  • Clutch J

    The ad  reflects the progress we’re making. Clearly, GM perceives the bicycle as symbolic of emerging lifestyle and demographic trends that threaten its future.

  • Yeah, check out GM’s twitter stream. The company saw the backlash (not least among college students) and went into damage control mode. Sometimes speaking up works!

  • Too little, too late. GM needs to do more than simply pulling it. Sacking some of their marketing department and/or donating to cycling advocacy groups would be a good start.

  • Maaaty

    Oh, my god.  If you go to the site listed in the ad, the feature image is a young woman (pedestrian) standing on a sidewalk getting soaked by a vehicle (windows closed, anonymous driver) ploughing through a puddle.

    Problem:  splashed by a car.
    Solution:  buy a car!

    GM marketing.  Imported from Stupid.

  • Caleb

    The image in this ad is hilarious.
    The facial expression of woman in the car says, “hey look at that cute guy on the bike.”
    The body language of the cyclist says, “do. not. want.”

  • olivia

    Ironically, my husband nearly flunked out of college working to support a
    car he used to get to a job he needed to pay for his car. DUH. AAA itself reckons the average person spends several ~$7500 on car ownership and operation….a rather irresponsible way for a college student to spend their time and money. A simple bike can afford college students more money toward tuition, more time toward studying, and more miles toward exercise.

  • Lmalvarez12

    Funny, lately I’ve been noticing how many companies have been working images of cyclists in their advertising to denote youth, hip, active, urban, sporty, exciting…
     Must be scary for GM… what if more and more people realize that in a growing number of American cities you can live better without a car and rent Zipcar on the rare occasions you really need one.

  • @7e6ca02e9dee9e05bff1fb9a6305e13c:disqus not so fast with Zipcar. They aren’t so hot on bicycles either: http://bikeportland.org/2011/09/08/zipcar-ad-jabs-bicycling-spurs-response-58663.

  • me

    im selling al my GM cars after reading this. What a stupid add.

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