Stop pedaling, start driving

October 12th, 2011  |  Tags:

I saw this link from Swobo’s Twitter feed. GM briefly ran an ad earlier today in which they encouraged college students to “stop pedaling [and] start driving” by participating in some discount program that would presumably make it easier for them to buy a new car:

Ad, via BikePortland.org
(Image credit: BikePortland.org)

I find this concept and its execution ill-advised and gauche but am unable to muster righteous outrage about an ad campaign that makes fun of cyclists; surely, a car company needs to portray their product as preferable to alternate modes of transportation, or else they’d be making bikes (or city buses, sedan chairs, spaceships, tuk-tuks, etc.). But I did chuckle over the following two points:

  1. Apparently, we’re encouraging college students to take out new-car loans now. I guess most students will have paid for the car before they’ve finished paying for their liberal arts degrees (the Chevrolet Sonic featured in the ad is roughly equivalent to a semester at a private college circa 2011), and you can occasionally resell a car for some fraction of what you paid for it, while your BA in music history1 or whatever is less likely to provide any tangible return. Still, it seems callous to prey on people who, by virtue of their status as customers of higher education, have such an obvious predisposition for making bad financial decisions.
  2. I own three bicycles. Each was made by a different company with different characteristics: small companies and large companies, companies that source other manufacturers’ components and companies that design their own components. However, they all have something in common: none of these manufacturers has needed a massive infusion of government cash to stay in business at any point.

At least GM has something in common with their audience here: both have decided that they deserve freedom from the consequences of bad choices, even if they can’t quite explain why.

1 I say this with particular authority, since I graduated college approximately three credit-hours short of a BA in music history.