Tagcommercials

GM hired a transit rider to promote their Volt, I think

A screenshot of the GM Chevy Volt ad I saw on Hulu. 

If you’re like me and most Americans, you probably see an advertisement for a car at least once a day. In an ad I watched on Hulu tonight, it appears GM filmed someone who takes buses and trains (or rides her bike) to sell people on the Chevy Volt.

The woman (the ad’s overlay text makes it seem like she’s a real owner) says, “I don’t event know what it’s like to stop and get gas” and “I am probably going to the gas station about once a month, probably less”.

With a car that only gets 35 MPG city, 40 MPG highway,* and has a range of 379 miles, she must be taking the bus for all those other trips she has to make each month! Or she walks to work each day and bikes to the grocery store on weekends. Or she just rarely leaves the house. But I don’t think the ad implies any of these things: instead it’s telling viewers that this automobile has amazing gas mileage (the ad never mentions it has an electric motor component).

The “average American” makes 3.79 trips per day with an average trip length of 9.75 miles. If this Volt driver was that average person, she would be driving 1,108.58 miles every 30 days. And her car doesn’t have that much range. It has a third of that.

She might have bad memory, though, about visiting gas stations.

The Toyota Prius, for comparison, gets 51 MPG city, 48 MPG highway,* and starts at $7,000 less.

* These are only estimates. The Chevy Volt gets 94 MPGe when running on purely the electric motors.

N.B. The Chevy Volt website shows a photo of the car in the position where it will spend most of the time: parked. I appreciate that accuracy!

Design a promotional message

If you were asked to design a poster, postcard, flyer, or what have you, to promote bicycling, what would you create?

A photo of my sister riding a bicycle in Chicago alongside the text, “I want to get in shape, waste less time, and save money.” Similar to Mikael’s “The bike, think about it.”

No one asked me to design the poster above. Mikael Colville-Anderson of Copenhagenize and Copenhagen Cycle Chic (who I met in January 2011) is constantly reimagining car advertisements and plastering cheeky messages on photos. I created this to expand my creativity, use computer software I rarely try out, as well as promote one of the answers to a lot of problems, be they personal, environmental, or social.

I don’t think there’re enough positive messages about bicycling being spread in media or in our media-filled physical environment – we see the opposite. If you watched the Super Bowl commercials on Sunday (or online today), you’d have seen Audi’s “Green Police” arresting people for not recycling or for driving something other than their “clean diesel” car. Audi advertised the same “clean diesel” car in a different commercial that suggested bicycling was difficult and degrading, and probably only done while it’s raining.

To promote bicycling as the cure to what ails us, Mikael designed this poster of a patch kit and the text, “The bicycle. Fixing broken cities. You’re welcome.”

Mikael and I posing for a shot next to hand and foot rail for cyclists after riding our bikes around Copenhagen after sipping some beer and eating expensive, but tasty, hamburgers.

Promoting bicycling doesn’t always need a narrative message, though. This poster for the great people of San Francisco identifies each neighborhood by a kind of bicycle. The funniest one is the exercise (stationary) bike for Castro. Think about the neighborhoods in your city – which one would a fixie represent and which one would get the cargo bike?

One of my favorite messages is apparently quite old: Put some fun between your legs.

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