We've seen Hummers plummet from the sky and "Share the Road" signs sent spiraling through the air by speed demons driving fast enough to break the sound barrier. We've seen greenwashing, pinkwashing, robowashing, and everything in between. We've even seen a sports car spew out the entire national anthem from its engine, because sometimes, you don't even need words to send the message that fast, dirty driving is an American value.
After thousands of votes and enough eerily empty downtowns to last a lifetime, Streetsblog readers have narrowed it down to just two of the most toxic car ads in history.
Now, the only question is which one will reign supreme — and what America will do to make sure that these ads, and the auto-obsessed culture that helped create them, will no longer dominate our screens, or our imagination about what U.S. roads should look like.
Let's take one last look at the contenders in this battle of the toxic masculine megacars, and a few of the great insights from our guest commentators on why they deserve the title — and then let's vote.
The Chevy Colorado
From Streetsblog editor Kea Wilson on this ad's entry into the Sweet 16:
Of course, the opinions of the focus group [depicted in this commercial] probably say a little more about how toxic car ads have conditioned Americans to think about truck and sedan drivers from the youngest possible age, rather than anything about the drivers themselves. ... But the commercial itself also perpetuates that conditioning — among men and people of other genders.
I’m not sure how this one can be topped. I’m offended as a human and marketer. My God, if I were in this segment’s demographic, I would be humiliated that this is how I’m seen by Chevy.
From Transportation Alternatives Executive Director Danny Harris on the semi-finals bout:
I’m a parent of young children, and when their teachers talk to them about bullying in school, this is literally what they talk about. All this stuff about "the guy with the sedan is less handsome" and the "guy with the truck looks like he’d have a cooler pet" — it’s all about making people feel bad who don’t or can’t buy a truck.
The Dodge Truancy
(Editor's note: probably a Durango...but we can't be sure, because the automaker doesn't bother to name the car they're ostensibly trying to sell in this ad. So we're calling it the Truancy for now.)
This ad has everything: fireworks, Fourth of July-levels of national pride, burnouts, drag racing and being too awesome for "love" because "hot, nasty, badass speed" is all that drives a good American. You have all the ingredients you need to move that weaponized metal off those lots and into our neighborhoods.
When you think that Dodge can do no worse, they find ways to lower the bar. The question isn’t whether their ads should be regulated; it’s whether the company should be subject to legal action for promoting road violence.
Polls will remain open until Thursday, November 18 at 11:59 p.m. ET.