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GM Portrays Cyclists as Clueless Dorks

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As seen around the biking blogosphere last week, General Motors’ latest ad campaign in college newspapers urged students to “Stop pedaling…start driving,” and it offered a smirking, cute girl (in a car) looking out at an embarrassed college boy on a bike hiding his face. The message: Bike commuters are dorks, and you should drive.

General Motors ad was immediately called “anti-bike”

REALITY SUCKS,” reads the ad headline, referring to, we think, the ostensive “suckyness” of pedaling to school. The ad appeared in college newspapers like the UCLA Daily Bruin, and bikers around the country last week immediately jumped on it, forcing GM to apologize profusely via its Twitter feed and eventually, as reported in the L.A. Times, pull the ad campaign in its entirety.

Many commenters online were incensed not only by the ad and its subtext but by the fact that it was GM, the company that required taxpayers to bail it out in 2009 to the tune of billions and billions of dollars, that was baiting young people to go into depth themselves and buy a GM truck or car. Said a repeated Twitter message at the company’s @GM account, “We’re listening & making changes to the ads. Created them w/student input and didn’t mean any offense. Thanks for flagging.”

Giant Bicycles’ response to the GM campaign

Astutely playing on the meme of the story, Giant Bicycles quickly released a counter parody ad that cites “Reality Does Suck,” and it goes on to do a quid pro quo on bike costs versus the costs of owning and fueling a car.

Readers, what do you think? Are bikers overreacting? Is GM’s ad in utter poor taste, or is the “Stop pedaling…start driving” campaign simply a clever way for the company to get some attention? Because that’s exactly what the “REALITY SUCKS” campaign seems to be doing.

—Stephen Regenold

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