18 January 2011

New Car Industry Strikes Back - With a Hug

Another interesting advert fra a car company. If you've been following this blog you'll know about the car adverts we've blogged that seemed to be attacking - let's just say taking the piss out of - cyclists. Most are under the Car Industry Strikes Back tag.

Then Citroën launched this advert last year that seems to be keen on playing the urban co-existence card.

And now this KIA Canada advert.

"After all, we started out making bicycles. Sharing... that's how we can all drive change..."

Ford is suddenly advertising their origins as a bicycle manufacturer. It's the positive, penultimate message in the advert.

Goodness me. Is the car industry accepting the reemergence of the bicycle? Are they trying to change motorist behaviour with their message?

Or are they just capitalising on a trend in order to look warm and understanding?

What do you think?


will.i.am said...

As much as I'd like to think they are trying to change motorist behaviour, I think that they're going with the capitalizing on a trend to look warm and understanding.

bikeolounger said...

Not that I'm a cynic or anything, but I think Will.i.am has it right.

Green Idea Factory said...

Hurry Up!

dfwm said...

The sense that you are safe in a automobile is reinforced by the deserted streets save the bicycle film crew. What is this Sunday morning? in the end Kia is selling cars not behavior change, that can only come from leaving the car at home.

Peter said...

would love to see this commercial re-done with actual traffic.

Brendan61 said...

I think that clever advetising people pick up on emerging trends and magnify them to help sell products. If they recognize road sharing as part of the emerging zeitgeist they are more than happy to get on board and help promote the message while creating the warm-fuzzies for their products.

James D. Schwartz said...

I think it's great - regardless of their intentions.

Best case scenario:

Kia is doing this because they really believe in sharing the road and that bicycles have a permanent place on our urban streets (for ethical and practical reasons).

Worst case scenario:

Kia sees a trend in the market and wants to capitalize on it by "pretending" that they give a shit.

No matter which way you spin it, it's a GREAT thing - it either means that bicycles are being taken seriously by car manufacturers that care about the world and urban mobility. Or it means that bicycles have become such a popular trend that car companies are using them for marketing. Win-win IMO.

kfg said...

Yeah, I think they're just trying to create warm fuzzy feelings about their cars by transferring them from bicycles, but I'm not entirely unpersuaded by James's argument.

So long as it works to our advantage without causing us much in the way of harm.

Green Idea Factory said...

James, you left out the part where people buy these and continue to make the road dangerous (via emissions and/or collisions).

James D. Schwartz said...

@Green Idea Factory - Car companies will market their cars regardless. If something positive comes out of it for bicyclists, I think it's a good thing no matter which way we spin it.

bikefish said...

I'd say it's better than some of the bicycle "promotion" we've seen - like the Washington Area Bicyclist Association's campaign to have cyclists sign a pledge to "cycle more responsibly." http://www.grist.org/article/2011-01-18-what-does-it-mean-to-ride-a-bicycle-responsibly

Green Idea Factory said...

James, my great-grandparents in Hungary had friends in Bavaria who sent them a postcard in 1934.


Write something intelligent and critical and I will let you have the last word.

SteveL said...

Maybe they are targeting cyclists by saying "we are nice people, make this your #2 vehicle". The offroad scene at the beginning hints at this, hope there aren't any mountain bikers coming the other way.

The SUV marketing vision always sold on outdoor sports: skiing, rock climbing, kayaking, MTBing. The fact that the fuel economy meant they made all these activies 2X the cost of small engined european station wagon was never raised. Or the fact that most hard-core extreme sports people lived out of old camper vans and had no regular income. The SUV was really for people who commuted every weekday but wanted to dream of the mountains -not those people who lived in them.

That said, the Vauxhaul Corsa - a very small car- can come with a pop-up bike rack built into the rear bumper/fender. The UK singletrack magazine were a bit worried about its longevity though.

Isn't it interesting how small cars don't come with roof bars and other features to attach luggage, but big vehicles -the ones with more room- do?

wienerradlchic said...

I think these adds show how hard it will get through out the next year to find arguments for buying a car. We've seen the green movement where everything has been washed green with less fuel and more efficency but everybody knows it's 10 times greener if you by a used 5-10 year old car then a new one. (if you even consider buying a car.)

therefore I agree with James, it's a great thing that car manufacturer show their biggest fear in the bicycle cos people start to take the bike seriouse again. Like during the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century where everybody seemd to cycle and from these bicycle manufacturer then cars emerged. Maybe we'll see some of them going back or strengthening their side brances to make new bicycles.

Frits B said...

@SteveL - Most Opels/Vauxhalls (a GM company) come with this bike rack nowadays. Sells well.

I wonder when Peugeot will play their trump card as manufacturers of sewing machines.

Green Idea Factory said...

James: Sorry to be rude but car marketing is almost always very deceptive. So in this case we have the two completely unrealistic situations in rural and urban settings which were almost definitely not filmed by a cycling grew with a product more dangerous than average for cyclists and other road users.

The "share the road" slogan was meant to induce the response that KIA is cool. KIA (a daughter company of Hyundai) is so uncool, just like the other car makers which make private urban automobiles for streets they know are too full, too fast and thus absolutely not designed for sharing. "Share the road" is almost meaningless in most urban settings in Canada and the USA (and the rest of the world) which have not been slowed or segregated or both and also which have bad public transportation or of course other "alternatives". If KIA wanted to share (also the world) it would make slower vehicles for... ha ha... carshare only in urban settings, or not for urban settings and in either case only able to use renewable energy. They are pigs and use of this slogan simply makes clear their duplicity.

Again, sorry to get personal but my Hungarian great-grandparents were killed by someone who fooled a lot of people, someone who used lots of clever short phrases for marketing.

James D. Schwartz said...

@Green Idea Factory

I think we just have a slight difference in ideology. I think cars have a place and a useful purpose, and I have accepted that cars are here to stay.

That's why I find it a bit extreme to compare car companies to the Nazis. I also have relatives who perished in the war. My Grandfather lived to tell me stories about the Germans taking over his house when he was 14 years old before the Canadians liberated Holland.

However, I think that our addiction to automobiles is severely damaging to both the earth and to humans. I think we need to drive a lot less. That's why I promote alternate means of transportation (primarily bicycles), and even though I no longer own a car, I still use a car once every couple weeks. If more people in North America only used a car every couple weeks, I think our society and world would be significantly better off.

But auto companies will always be marketing their products, and it's up to consumers to demand more earth-friendly products, and it's up to governments to help make it more cost effective and efficient to use alternate modes of transportation.

The fact that a car company is promoting sharing the road with bicycles is a sign that the market demographics are changing and people are more conscious about bicycles. That's why it sells.

If the market continues to shift, and more people buy bicycles, and less people buy cars, then auto companies will probably jump on that bandwagon and start selling bicycles too.

Green Idea Factory said...

James: Thanks. Based on what you said I think our idealogy is actually quite similar and that we just have a different analysis of how advertising is used.

I am not anti-car, I am anti-inappropriately used automobile. I say "automobiles" as this is a technical term, whereas "car(riage)" predates automobiles, is also used for trains and equestrian-based mobility and is the main marketing term, e.g. "you need a car!". Private automobiles are inappropriate for urban use and while they will certainly not vanish if I close my eyes very tightly and make a wish, we seem to agree that we do need to hasten the purge of this bad solution with everything from carshare to collective PT to bikes to homeworking. KIA is not interested in making fewer automobiles and market demand will probably persuade other new manufacturers to appear before it encourages KIA to change their total strategy and re-tool their factories. That said, if they do change I would certainly support it publicly.

I am sorry for your family's loss in the War, and I don't make comparisons lightly: 1.2 million people are killed on the roads every year from collisions alone and (I think) more than that from gas, particle and noise emissions. Then add obesity-caused death... perhaps it's not a genocide but it is a kind of holocaust.

Ryan said...

Here is another Kia ad that use to be on TV here in Canada a few years ago:


"The story began with a bicycle back in 1951. Today our proudest accomplishment is more than just a bicycle, its actually our state of the art manufacturing facility in West Point, Virginia, the home of the all new Sorrento."